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Business News

Invensys selling Britain out

A French swoop on Invensys would call time on a British engineer that traces its orgins back to the 19th century.

It also marks another international deal for its chairman, Sir Nigel Rudd, who has earned the sobriquet of "the man who sold Britain" in the tabloids after presiding over a series of foreign takeovers ranging from Pilkington Glass to Boots.

Much as bankers may hope that a deal heralds the reawakening of the M&A market, it has been on the cards since Sir Nigel sold Invensys' rail division to Germany's Siemens last November for £1.7bn, in the process plugging the engineer's pension deficit and thus making the rump of the company attractive to potential suitors such as Schneider, Siemens, the Swiss/Swedish ABB, and Emerson of the US.

The one-time blue-chip stock, created from the merger of BTR and Siebe in 1999, is now focused on controls for nuclear plants and on industrial thermostats.

BTR's core "British Tyre & Rubber" businesses, which dated back to 1924 when the American tyre maker Goodrich set up a UK subsidary, ceased in the 1950s, while Siebe's original diving gear business (founded in London by a Prussian engineer in 1800s) was split off in the 1970s.