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Inge Thulin

Bruce Bisping, Star Tribune

Thulin

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3M spends $885M for full control of Japanese unit

  • Article by: Dee DePass
  • July 16, 2014 - 9:34 PM

Fulfilling its promise to make more acquisitions, 3M Co. said Wednesday that it will buy the remaining 25 percent of a jointly owned Japanese electronics firm for about $885 million.

3M’s purchase of the rest of Sumitomo 3M Ltd. should close Sept. 1, giving Maplewood-based 3M full ownership of the former joint venture that has existed since 1961.

The all-cash deal sheds positive light on two fronts — that 3M sees the once-beleaguered Japanese economy as continuing to improve and that 3M has not given up on the frequently inconsistent electronics industry. Both — the industry and the country — have been occasional sore spots for 3M over the past two years.

But in a statement Wednesday, 3M CEO Inge Thulin said that the Sumitomo venture has always been profitable for 3M. Going forward, it is expected to add 8 cents a share to earnings during the first 12 months after closing.

“It’s a strategic acquisition in a business we know well, as we have grown the business profitable for over 50 years,” Thulin said. “This investment allows us to gain full control of one of 3M’s most successful subsidiaries.”

Shareholders appeared to like the deal. 3M’s stock rose $1.11 a share to close at $146.17 on Wednesday.

Back in 1961, 3M partnered with Sumitomo Electric Industries Ltd. and NEC Corp. to form Sumitomo 3M Ltd. 3M bought out NEC’s 25 percent stake in the joint venture in 2003. That move boosted 3M’s stake in the firm to 75 percent from 50 percent.

3M spokeswoman Donna Fleming Runyon said the 3M Sumitomo operation is involved in every industry but health care products. Unit sales were not disclosed.

3M’s acquisition news fulfills its promise to step up acquisitions. In December and in April, 3M officials told Wall Street analysts that the company would consider larger deals in the future. In the past, 3M’s largest purchases stopped at around the $1 billion mark. Going forward, it will consider much larger deals, Thulin said.

The manufacturer plans to spend $5 billion to $10 billion on acquisitions between 2013 and 2017. That’s huge considering that 3M didn’t buy anything of size last year.

Analysts have noted that 3M’s plan to focus more on acquisitions is a smart use of capital.

In recent months, 3M ramped up its capital allocation plans. “During their analyst meeting [in December] they outlined their plans. They talked about long-term capital and plans to increase dividends, [share] buybacks and acquisitions. The acquisitions figured prominently in that plan,” said FBR Capital analyst Ajay Kejriwal. “The next big thing is acquisitions.”

Dee DePass • 612-673-7725

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