Swedish giant to take over vacuum pump maker Edwards in £1bn deal

A BRITISH manufacturer of vacuum pumps is to be acquired by a Swedish industrial giant in a takeover worth up to £1bn.

Edwards Group has agreed to be bought by Atlas Copco, which hailed the Crawley, West Sussex firm as a “great fit” with its compressed air businesses. Edwards makes vacuum systems used in industries for freeze-drying food, manufacturing flat-screen TVs and keeping laboratories sterile, and was formerly part of BOC (previously known as British Oxygen Company) in 2007.

It supplies pumps used to remove contaminants at CERN, the European Organisation for Nuclear Research, home to the Large Hadron Collider particle accelerator.

The company, which is listed on Wall Street’s Nasdaq stock exchange, said the takeover will create opportunities for its 3,700 staff and accelerate growth in its 30 global markets.

Edwards boss Jim Gentilcore said the deal is “strategically and financially compelling” and has been backed by 84 per cent of its shareholders.

He said: “The transaction delivers many benefits for Edwards’ customers and employees.

“The two companies share very similar strategic goals, strong brands and market-leading positions.”

Atlas, which has a site in Hertfordshire, plans to create a new vacuum division within its air compressor arm, which will be based in Crawley.

Atlas chief executive Ronnie Leten said: “The vacuum solutions market is growing and has similar characteristics to our existing industrial businesses.”

Edwards was founded in 1919 as a vacuum equipment importing business in south Lon- don.

It started manufacturing vacuum equipment in 1939 and has more than 1,400 live pat- ents.

Edwards tried unsuccessfully to float on the London Stock Exchange in 2011. It floated on Nasdaq last May.

Stockholm-based Atlas has almost 40,000 staff based in more than 170 countries, spanning industries including air compression, mining equipment and power tools.