ABB Group

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Publicly traded limited company
Traded asSIXABBN
Nasdaq StockholmABB
IndustryElectrical equipment
Founded1988 through merger of ASEA (1883) of Sweden and Brown, Boveri & Cie (1891) of Switzerland
HeadquartersZurich, Switzerland
Area served
Key people
Peter Voser (interim CEO), Peter Voser (Chairman)
ProductsPower, Automation
RevenueIncrease US$28.590 billion (2018)[1]
Increase US$3.005 billion (2018)[1]
Decrease US$2.173 billion (2018)[1]
Total assetsDecrease US$44.441 billion (2018)[2]
Total equityDecrease US$14.534 billion (2018)[2]
Number of employees

ABB (ASEA Brown Boveri) (SIXABBN, NYSEABB, Nasdaq StockholmABB) is a Swiss-Swedish multinational corporation headquartered in Zurich, Switzerland, operating mainly in robotics, power, heavy electrical equipment and automation technology areas. It is ranked 341st in the Fortune Global 500 list of 2018 and has been a global Fortune 500 company for 24 years.[4]

ABB is traded on the SIX Swiss Exchange in Zürich, Nasdaq Stockholm and the New York Stock Exchange in the United States.[5]


Allmänna Svenska Elektriska Aktiebolaget (General Swedish Electrical Limited Company, ASEA) was founded in 1883 by Ludvig Fredholm[6] in Västerås as manufacturer of electrical light and generators. Brown, Boveri & Cie (BBC) was formed in 1891 in Baden, Switzerland, by Charles Eugene Lancelot Brown and Walter Boveri[7] as a Swiss group of electrical companies producing AC and DC motors, generators, steam turbines and transformers.

ABB around the world.[vague]

ABB was created as the result of the merger of ASEA and BBC in 1988. The latter had acquired Maschinenfabrik Oerlikon in 1967. The former CEO of ASEA, Percy Barnevik, became CEO of ABB, until his resignation in 1996.

ABB Transformer in Iowa being transported by the Iowa Interstate Railroad.

In 1990, ABB purchased Westinghouse's metering and control division (the load control division was spun off to Cannon Technologies in the late 1990s and the meter division was spun off to Elster Electricity in the early 2000s). Also, in the early 1990s, ABB purchased Combustion Engineering (C-E), headquartered in Stamford and Norwalk, Connecticut, a leading U.S. firm in the development of conventional fossil fuel power and nuclear power supply systems to break into the North American market. Klaus Agthe was CEO of the US operation at the time. Continuing with its expansion plans, ABB purchased Elsag Bailey,[8] a process automation group, in 1997 which included Bailey Controls, Hartmann & Braun, and Fischer & Porter. This was the largest acquisition to date in ABB's history.

ABB bought International Combustion Ltd[9] from Rolls-Royce[10] in 1997.

Alstom acquired ABB's boiler and fossil fuel operations in 2000 while its nuclear business was purchased by Westinghouse Electric Company in 2000. In 2000, ABB also signed a contract for the delivery of equipment and services for two North Korean nuclear powerplants to be supplied under an agreement with the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization (KEDO),[11] a consortium formed in 1995 by the governments of the United States, Japan, South Korea and the European Union.[12] ABB formally divested from a joint venture named ABB-Alstom Power in 2000, and sold its interest in conventional power generation systems to Alstom Power. ABB's nuclear business was sold[13] to BNFL and merged into Westinghouse Electric Company.

In 2001, ABB was ranked as number one on the Dow Jones Sustainability Index[14] for the third year in a row.

In 2002, ABB asked Lindahl, the company's former chief executive, to return some of his $50 million retirement pay, which its board called excessive. ABB also asked its former chairman Percy Barnevik to pay back part of his $87 million pension package. The size of the pensions was disclosed at the same time as ABB's $691 million net loss for 2001 made headlines and drew sharp criticism in Switzerland and Sweden.[15]

ABB's Building Systems business unit was sold off in 2004 to Capvis,[16] a Swiss private equity company, as part of ABB's strategy to focus on power and automation technologies. ABB's building systems businesses in Australia and Hong Kong were sold off the year before, in May 2003, to Downer EDI Limited. Building Systems provided services for building facilities encompassing indoor air quality, building automation as well as power distribution and management.

Financial debt and lingering asbestos liability brought ABB to the brink of bankruptcy in the early 2000s. In 2006, ABB recovered financially by settling asbestos issues brought by its U.S. subsidiaries, Combustion Engineering and Lummus Global.[17] In August 2007 Lummus Global was sold to CB&I.[18]

In December 2008, ABB acquired Ber-Mac Electrical and Instrumentation to expand its presence in western Canada's oil and gas industries.

In 2009, ABB realigned its automation divisions . As of 1 January 2010, the business units in the Automation Products and Robotics divisions were regrouped into two new divisions – Discrete Automation and Motion, and Low Voltage Products. The Process Automation division remained unchanged except for the addition of the instrumentation business from the Automation Products division.

In May 2010, ABB acquired software company Ventyx for more than $1 billion from Vista Equity Partners.[19] In 2011, on 9 May ABB announced acquisition of Australian-based Mincom Limited from private equity firm Francisco Partners for an undisclosed sum.[20] On 29 July 2011, acquisition has been finalised.[21] Mincom and Ventyx were subsequently integrated under the Ventyx name, and have now been integrated into ABB as the Enterprise Software Product Group.

In 2011 ABB acquired Baldor Electric USA for $4.2 billion in an all-cash transaction On 30 January 2012, ABB Group acquired Thomas & Betts in a $3.9 billion cash transaction.[22] On 15 June 2012, it completed acquisition of commercial and industrial wireless technology specialists Tropos. In July 2013, ABB acquired Power-One in a $1 billion all-cash transaction, to become the leading global manufacturer of solar inverters [1]. On 30 June 2018, ABB completed its acquisition of GE Industrial Solutions, General Electric's global electrification business. The transaction was announced on 25 September 2017.[23]

Organizational structure[edit]

ABB describes itself as a “pioneering technology leader with a comprehensive offering for digital industries”, which refers to its ABB Ability digital solutions portfolio. With a heritage dating back to the 19@th century, the company today consists of a corporate headquarters, based in Switzerland, and four businesses, specializing in electrification, industrial automation, industrial motion, and robotics & discrete automation. A fifth business, specializing in Power Grids, is currently being prepared for divestment to Hitachi, foreseen in the first half of 2020. ABB operates in more than 100 countries with about 147,000 employees.


ABB's Electrification business offers a portfolio of products, digital solutions and services from substation to socket. Customers include a wide range of industry and utility operations, plus commercial and residential buildings. The business has strong exposure to a range of rapidly growing segments, including renewables, e-mobility, data centers and smart buildings.

Its offerings include electric vehicle infrastructure, solar inverters, modular substations, distribution automation; products to protect people, installations and electronic equipment from electrical overload such as enclosures, cable systems and low-voltage circuit breakers; measuring and sensing devices, control products, switches and wiring accessories.

The business also offers KNX systems that integrate and automate a building's electrical installations, ventilation systems, and security and data communication networks. Electrification incorporates an Electrification Solutions unit manufacturing low voltage switchgear and motor control centers.

The acquisition of GE Industrial Solutions, which closed in June 2018, further strengthened ABB's #2 global position in electrification.[23]


ABB’s Motion business provides a range of electrical motors, generators, drives and services, as well as integrated digital powertrain solutions. Motion is the #1 player in the market globally. [24]

Robotics and Discrete Automation[edit]

An ABB industrial robot.

ABB’s Robotics & Discrete Automation business combines machine and factory automation solutions, mainly from B&R, which ABB acquired in 2017, with a comprehensive robotics solutions and applications suite. ABB has installed over 300,000 robots globally. The Robotics & Discrete Automation business has been positioned to capture the opportunities associated with the “factory of the future” by providing solutions for flexible manufacturing and smart machinery. The business is #2 globally, with a #1 position in robotics in the high-growth Chinese market, where ABB is expanding its innovation and production capacity by investing in a new robotics factory in Shanghai. [25]

Industrial Automation[edit]

The Industrial Automation business provides a range of solutions for process and hybrid industries, including its industry-specific integrated automation, electrification and digital solutions, control technologies, software and advanced services, as well as measurement & analytics, marine and turbocharging offerings.

The business leverages ABB’s leading technologies, including its #1 DCS (distributed control systems), broad digital portfolio, deep industry expertise, largest installed base and vast global footprint to make it #2 in its market globally.[26]

Power Grids[edit]

The Power Grids business offers components for the transmission and distribution of electricity, and incorporates ABB's manufacturing network for transformers, switchgear, circuit breakers, and associated high voltage equipment such as digital protective relays. It also offers maintenance services.

A key part of Power Grids' offering turnkey systems and service for power transmission and distribution grids and for power plants; this includes electrical substations and substation automation systems flexible AC transmission systems (FACTS), high-voltage direct current (HVDC) systems, and network management systems. The division is subdivided into the four business units High Voltage Products, Transformers, Grid Automation and Grid Integration.


In May 2013, ABB Sécheron SA joined with several groups in Geneva TOSA (Trolleybus Optimisation Système Alimentation, or in English, Trolleybus Power System Optimization) in a one-year demonstration of a trolleybus route using a novel charging system. Rather than overhead wires, charging is accomplished by fixed overhead devices located at stops along the route and at the terminus.[27][28][29] Jean-Luc Favre, head of Rail ISI, discussed the promising role of improved electric transport technology in ABB.[30]

ABB Power Grids division sale[edit]

In December 2018, ABB and Hitachi Ltd. announced that Hitachi would take over ABB’s power grid business for about $11 billion. The transaction would be the Japanese conglomerate’s biggest-ever deal as it shifts focus from nuclear plants to the higher-growth market for electricity networks. [31]


Ulrich Spiesshofer has been the chief executive officer since September 2013. The board of directors[32] is chaired by Peter Voser. He was elected in April 2015 and succeeded Hubertus von Grünberg, who had been Chairman since May 2007. Jürgen Dormann was chairman from 2002 to 2007, and Percy Barnevik from 1999 to 2002.

Primary investors[edit]

The largest single stake in the firm is held by the Swedish investment company Investor AB, controlled by the Wallenberg family, which holds 10.71%.[33]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Facts and figures". Retrieved 28 February 2019.
  2. ^ a b "ABB Annual Report 2018". ABB. Retrieved 28 March 2019.
  3. ^ "ABB FY 2018 results". ABB. Retrieved 28 February 2019.
  4. ^ "Fortune 500 - ABB". Retrieved 8 August 2018.
  5. ^ "Share - Listing information".
  6. ^ "Ludvig Fredholm".
  7. ^ "Walter Boveri".
  8. ^ "Elsag Bailey was acquired by ABB Group". 1999, Elsag Bailey Process Automation N.V. was acquired by ABB Group.
  9. ^ "International Combustion Ltd from American roots to Sinfin Lane". 6 December 2010. Retrieved 12 December 2010.
  10. ^ "UK Business Park". UK Business Park. Archived from the original on 25 January 2012. Retrieved 12 December 2010.
  11. ^ "Press release: ABB to deliver systems, equipment to North Korean nuclear plants". ABB. 20 January 2000. Retrieved 13 September 2009.
  12. ^ Randeep Ramesh (9 May 2003). "The two faces of Rumsfeld". London: The Guardian.
  13. ^ "Press release: ABB to sell nuclear business to BNFL". ABB. 29 December 1999. Retrieved 13 September 2009.
  14. ^ "Dow Jones Sustainability Indexes". Archived from the original on 27 April 2007.
  15. ^ Edith M. Lederer (1 March 2002). "UN: Swedish Businessman Loses Job". CorpWatch. Retrieved 12 December 2010.
  16. ^ "ABB sells Swiss Building Systems business". 20 February 2004. Retrieved 12 December 2010.
  17. ^ Uncredited (1 September 2006). "ABB asbestos claims resolved". Reuters.
  18. ^ Krauskopf, Lewis (27 August 2007). "CB&I to buy Lummus Global from ABB". Retrieved 12 December 2010.
  19. ^ "ABB acquires Ventyx to strengthen its network management business". 5 May 2010. Retrieved 27 August 2012.
  20. ^ "ABB Press Release: ABB acquires Mincom to expand enterprise software business" (PDF). 9 May 2011. Retrieved 6 August 2011.
  21. ^ "ABB Press Release: ABB completes acquisition of Mincom" (PDF). 29 July 2011. Retrieved 6 August 2011.
  22. ^ "Thomas & Betts Corporation Reports Fourth Quarter 2011 Net Earnings" (PDF). 30 January 2012. Retrieved 1 February 2012.
  23. ^ a b "ABB completes acquisition of GE Industrial Solutions". Retrieved 30 July 2018.
  24. ^ "ABB Strategy 2019 Update". Text " " ignored (help); Missing or empty |url= (help); |access-date= requires |url= (help)
  25. ^ "ABB Strategy 2019 Update". Text " " ignored (help); Missing or empty |url= (help); |access-date= requires |url= (help)
  26. ^ "ABB Strategy 2019 Update". Text " " ignored (help); Missing or empty |url= (help); |access-date= requires |url= (help)
  27. ^ Mike Millikin, ed. (31 May 2013). "ABB develops and demonstrates "flash charging" system for electric buses". Green Car Congress. Retrieved 1 June 2012.
  28. ^ Zachary Shahan (31 May 2013). "ABB Unveils Ultrafast, 15-Second "Flash Charging" Electric Bus". CleanTechnica. Retrieved 1 June 2013.
  29. ^ "New Charging Technology from ABB - Analyst Blog". Zachs Investment Research. 31 May 2013. Archived from the original on 9 February 2015. Retrieved 1 June 2013.
  30. ^ "Geneva Unveils Electric Bus without Overhead Wires (see video of call)". The Local, Switzerland's News in English. 21 April 2013. Retrieved 1 June 2013.
  31. ^ "ABB: Shaping a leader focused in digital industries". Text " " ignored (help); Missing or empty |url= (help); |access-date= requires |url= (help)
  32. ^ "ABB Board of Directors". Retrieved 25 October 2015.
  33. ^ "ABB: Major shareholders".

Further reading[edit]

  • ABB (2005): The Dormann Letters, Jürgen Dormann/ABB Group, Zurich
  • Bélanger, Jacques et al. (2001): Being local worldwide: ABB and the challenge of global management, Cornell University Press, New York. ISBN 0-8014-3650-8
  • Kevin Barham, Claudia Heimer (1998): ABB: the dancing giant – creating the globally connected corporation. Financial Times, London. ISBN 0-273-62861-5

External links[edit]