BTR buys Pollux Meter for pounds 163m

BTR will become a world leader in water meters after buying one of the big European companies, the Pollux Meter Company, for Fr1.453bn (pounds 163m), which includes pounds 55m of debt.

Pollux will be integrated into BTR Process Control Group, together with BTR's existing business, Sensus Technologies, which is based in Uniontown, Pennsylvania, and is the leading US supplier of domestic water meters.

Together they will form a global company with sales of pounds 330m a year, and an estimated 23 per cent of the world market.

Pollux alone had sales of pounds 137m and made profits before tax and interest of pounds 16m in 1996. The business has assets of pounds 29m and employs 2,000, mainly in Germany, France, the US and Turkey. It has been sold by a group of investors led by Partenaires, an investment fund managed by an affiliate of Lazard Freres, which bought the business in 1993.

The combined group would provide the basis for expansion into new markets, especially in Latin America and eastern Europe, and it would provide the basis for faster development of new technologies and systems, BTR's chief executive Ian Strachan said yesterday. Future developments include the wider use of electronics and remote reading systems.

The deal is conditional on approval by the regulatory authorities in the US, Germany and Belgium, which is expected to take about a month. The acquisition is part of BTR's four-pronged development strategy revealed last year.

Pollux appeared to be a good fit geographically and technologically. The acquisition would not dilute BTR's earnings in the current year, a spokesman said, although it represents only a small addition to the total group turnover of pounds 10bn.