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ABB closing in on Siemens top spot after B&R deal, says ABB CEO

Swiss engineering group ABB's move to acquire Austrian automation group Bernecker + Rainer (B&R) will strengthen its number two position and bring it closer in line with market leader Siemens, CEO Ulrich Spiesshofer told CNBC.

"We are strengthening our number two position with this acquisition, we are closing up to the number one, which is Siemens, and we are increasing the distance from all the other players," Spiesshofer said Tuesday, hours after the firm announced that it is to purchase B&R for an undisclosed sum.

The deal marks the initiation of 'stage three' of the firm's overhaul strategy and the start of an "aggressive growth story", as the firm shifts its focus towards increased investment, Spiesshofer noted.

Stages one and two under Spiesshofer's leadership involved a period of streamlining across ABB's four core business areas: electrification products; robotics and motion; industrial automation; and power grids.

"We now have four market leading businesses … which are number one or number two in their respective fields."

Siemens is currently the world's single-source leader of automation technology products, but Spiesshofer said the addition of B&R, which has particular strength in the food & beverage and packaging industries, will help "shift the center of gravity."

"With the investment that we are doing now in B&R, by buying the company and continuing the investment story, we are strengthening the industrial automation field.

"We have a different ABB today: an ABB which is more customer-focused, clearer and simpler. Now we are ready to add to the portfolio and drive a very aggressive growth story."

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