American Standard announced last month that the $11 billion toilets-to-brakes conglomerate would sell its well-known bath-and-kitchen division, spin off its vehicle controls group and rename itself Trane after the flagship brand name of the one business it will keep.
Standard announced last month that the $11 billion toilets-to-brakes
conglomerate dating back to the 19th century would sell its well-known
bath-and-kitchen division, spin off its vehicle controls group and rename
itself Trane after the flagship brand name of the one business it will
“The board has concluded that separating American Standard into three focused,
better understood companies will create greater shareowner value than the
current structure,” said Fred Poses, the company’s chairman and CEO, in a press
release announcing the plan. “The businesses have the size, global reach,
industry leadership and organizational talent to succeed as separate
American Standard’s decision got early approval from Wall Street when the stock
reached an all-time high on the same day. The stock peaked as high as $53.70,
up 7% to its highest level since the company went public in 1995.
The company said the separation would allow management to focus on
air-conditioning systems and services, its biggest business with $6.8 billion
in 2006 sales. The new Trane Co. will remain publicly traded and keep its headquarters
in Piscataway, NJ. Trane will still be able to use the American Standard name
for some of its HVAC equipment.
Meanwhile, the vehicle control business, with $2 billion in 2006 sales, will be
spun off through a stock swap with current American Standard shareholders. The
independent, publicly traded company will be likely named Webco, after its
signature brand of antilock brakes and electronic suspension systems for heavy
trucks and luxury cars.
That leaves the bath-and-kitchen business with 2006 sales of $2.4 billion up
Whatever price the company receives for the plumbing operations will be used to
pay down debt and buy back what will be Trane stock.
American Standard reported a 77% leap in fourth-quarter profits, but by the
time of the breakup announcement, the business had lost $18.4 million for 2006.
In 2001, the bath-and-kitchen group employed 28,000 people in 66 plants around
the world. As of 2006, the group employed 26,000 people in 54 plants.
No part of the breakup requires shareholder approval. The company expects both
the sale of kitchen-and-bath operations and the spin-off of Webco to be
completed by September.
Current executives of the three units are expected to stay on in their
respective roles-all except for one. Poses will remain chairman and CEO, but is
expected to retire at the end of this year. A search is already under way to
name his successor.
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