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Rockwell Automation rebuffs sweetened Emerson bid

Keith Nosbusch, chairman of Rockwell Automation.
Christopher Goodney | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Keith Nosbusch, chairman of Rockwell Automation.

Rockwell Automation on Wednesday rejected rival Emerson Electric's sweetened takeover offer, saying the $29 billion bid undervalued the industrial automation company and that a merger would dampen its growth prospects.

Milwaukee-based Rockwell said its board of directors was unanimous in concluding that Emerson's latest offer about $2 billion higher than a previous proposal was "not in best interests of the company and its shareowners."

Earlier this month, Emerson outlined a plan for a combined "Emerson Rockwell" that will maintain a significant presence in Milwaukee and become an "automation center of excellence."

Rockwell on Wednesday questioned the strategic rationale for a merger.

A combination with Emerson would "dampen, not enhance, the ability to grow in the evolving industrial automation and information market," Rockwell Chief Executive Blake Moret said.

"Bigger is not always better for driving growth and value creation," Moret added.

Rockwell is a leader in so-called discrete automation, helping assemble component parts to make automobiles, household appliances, and computer systems.

Emerson's strength is in process automation, which helps power plants and factories in sectors including mining and cement operate more efficiently.

St. Louis-based Emerson's latest offer values Rockwell at $225 per share, split between $135 in cash and $90 in Emerson shares.

Shares of Rockwell fell 1.2 percent to $191 in premarket trading on Wednesday, with Emerson shares were slightly higher.