Rockwell Automation Jumps Most Since February on Takeover Report

(Bloomberg) -- Rockwell Automation Inc. surged the most in eight months on speculation that Schneider Electric SE is seeking to buy the producer of robotics software and equipment.

Schneider, the French maker of power distribution and automation systems, may be preparing a takeover offer that values Milwaukee-based Rockwell at $18 billion, StreetInsider reported, citing an unnamed person said to have knowledge of the matter.

Rockwell is an “extremely attractive asset” that faces a tough market in the short term, Steve Winoker, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein, said in a note to clients. Schneider purchased Invensys for $5.2 billion in 2014 and has continued to improve the business and invest in expanding it.
“Our experience with Schneider suggests that they can be very aggressive on the acquisition front when they want an asset,” Winoker wrote.

Rockwell rose 5.4 percent to $124.38 at 12:40 p.m. in New York after climbing as much as 6.9 percent, the biggest intraday gain since Feb. 4.

Both companies declined to comment.

Rockwell, one of the largest companies that focuses solely on industrial automation, has often been the subject of speculation that it could become a takeover target. Sales fell about 5 percent last year as the company struggled with a dearth of investment amid sluggish global growth.