ABB is a Swiss-Swedish multinational corporation headquartered in Zürich, Switzerland, and best known for its robotics. ABB operates mainly in the power and automation technology areas. It ranked 143rd in Forbes Ranking (2010).
ABB is one of the largest engineering companies as well as one of the largest conglomerates in the world. ABB has operations in around 100 countries, with approximately 130,000 employees, and reported global revenue of $31.6 billion for 2010.
ABB is traded on the SIX Swiss Exchange in Zürich and the Stockholm Stock Exchange in Sweden since 1999, and the New York Stock Exchange in the United States since 2001.
HistorySee also: ASEA and Brown, Boveri & Cie
ABB resulted from the 1988 merger of the Swedish corporation Allmänna Svenska Elektriska Aktiebolaget (ASEA) and the Swiss company Brown, Boveri & Cie (BBC); the latter had absorbed the Maschinenfabrik Oerlikon in 1967. CEO at the time of the merger was the former CEO of ASEA, Percy Barnevik, who ran the company until 1996.
ABB’s history goes back to the late nineteenth century. ASEA was incorporated by Ludwig Fredholm in 1883 and Brown, Boveri & Cie (BBC) was formed in 1891 in Baden, Switzerland, by Charles Eugene Lancelot Brown and Walter Boveri as a Swiss group of electrical companies producing AC and DC motors, generators, steam turbines and transformers.
 Organizational structureABB is the world’s largest builder of electricity grids and is active in many sectors, its core businesses being in power and automation technologies. The company has one corporate division and five production divisions since reorganisation in January 2010.
Power products are the key components for the transmission and distribution of electricity. The division incorporates ABB’s manufacturing network for transformers, switchgear, circuit breakers, cables, and associated high voltage and medium voltage equipment such as digital protective relays. It also offers maintenance services. The division is subdivided into three business units – High Voltage Products, Medium Voltage Products and Transformers.
Power SystemsPower Systems
offers turnkey systems and service for power transmission and distribution grids, and for power plants. Electrical substations and substation automation systems are key areas. Additional highlights include flexible AC transmission systems (FACTS), high-voltage direct current (HVDC) systems and network management systems. In power generation, Power Systems offers the instrumentation, control and electrification of power plants. The division is subdivided into four business units – Grid Systems, Substations, Network Management, and Power Generation.
Discrete Automation and Motion
The division “Discrete Automation and Motion” provides products and services for industrial production. It includes electric motors, generators, drives, programmable logic controllers (PLCs), analytical[clarification needed], power electronics and industrial robots. ABB has installed over 190,000 robots. In 2006 ABB’s global robotics Manufacturing headquarters moved to Shanghai, China. Also, Wind generators and solar energy are in this division.
Low Voltage Products
The Low Voltage Products division manufactures low-voltage circuit breakers, switches, control products, wiring accessories, enclosures and cable systems to protect people, installations and electronic equipment from electrical overload. The division further makes KNX systems that integrate and automate a building’s electrical installations, ventilation systems, and security and data communication networks. Low Voltage Products also incorporates a Low Voltage Systems unit manufacturing low voltage switchgear and motor control centres. Customers include a wide range of industry and utility operations, plus commercial and residential buildings.
The main focus of this ABB business is to provide customers with systems for control, plant optimization, and industry-specific automation applications. The industries served include oil and gas, power, chemicals and pharmaceuticals, pulp and paper, metals and minerals, marine and turbocharging.
Corporate and Other
The Corporate and Other department of ABB deals with the overall management and functioning of the company as well as asset management and investment. It supports MNCs.
Corporate and OtherThe Corporate and Other department of ABB deals with the overall management and functioning of the company as well as asset management and investment. It supports MNCs.
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, 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  from Rolls-Royce  in 1997.
ABB’s boiler and fossil fuel businesses were purchased by Alstom in 2000, and 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), a consortium formed in 1995 by the governments of the United States, Japan, South Korea and the European Union. 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 to BNFL and merged into Westinghouse Electric Company.
In 2001 ABB was ranked as number one on the Dow Jones corporate sustainability index 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.
ABB’s Building Systems business unit was sold off in 2004 to Capvis, 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 returned to financial health by settling its asbestos liability regarding claims that were filed against ABB’s U.S. subsidiaries, Combustion Engineering and Lummus Global. In August 2007 Lummus Global was sold to CB&I.
In 2009 ABB realigned its automation divisions to enhance growth opportunities. As of January 1, 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 2011, on May 9 ABB announced acquisition of Australian-based Mincom Limited from private equity firm Francisco Partners – to expand their enterprise software business for undisclosed sum. On July 29 2011 acquisition has been finalised.
In 2011 ABB acquired Baldor Electric USA for $4.2 billion in an all-cash transaction
 ManagementOn July 17, 2008, the Board of Directors of ABB Ltd. announced the appointment of Mr. Joseph M. Hogan as Chief Executive Officer and Member of the Executive Committee of The ABB Group. Mr Hogan is a graduate of Geneva College and holds an MBA from Robert Morris, both located in Western Pennsylvania.
September 2008–present: Joe Hogan
February 2008 – September 2008: Michel Demaré – ad interim
January 2005 – February 2008: Fred Kindle
September 2002 – December 2004: Jürgen Dormann
January 2001 – September 2002: Jörgen Centerman
January 1997 – December 2000: Göran Lindahl
1987-1996: Percy Barnevik
Chairman of the Board
The Board of Directors is chaired by Hubertus von Grünberg. He took over the position in May 2007, following the retirement of Jürgen Dormann, who had chaired the board since 2002.
Former Board Members:
Donald Rumsfeld (1990–2001)
 Primary investorsThe largest single stake in the firm is held by the Swedish investment company Investor AB, controlled by the Wallenberg family, which holds 7.1%.
|Type||Publicly-traded limited company|
|Traded as||SIX: ABBN, NYSE: ABB, OMX: ABB|
|Industry||Power technology, Industrial automation|
|Founded||1988 through merger of ASEA (1883) of Sweden and Brown, Boveri & Cie (1891) of Switzerland|
|Key people||Joe Hogan (CEO), Hubertus von Grünberg (Chairman)|
|Revenue||US $31.59 billion (2010)|
|Operating income||US $3.818 billion (2010)|
|Profit||US $2.561 billion (2010)|
|Total assets||US $36.30 billion (2010)|
|Total equity||US $15.46 billion (2010)|
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