Gerhard Luftensteiner CEO of KEBA AG talks about the acquisition of LTI Motion Group
In one of MP’s most recent successful transactions, our Electronics team advised Austrian hidden champion KEBA AG in the acquisition of LTI Motion Group. The transaction marked a transformative milestone for the Linz-based automation solution specialists. Following the completion of the transaction, we sat down with Gerhard Luftensteiner, accomplished industry veteran and CEO of KEBA AG to review the process as well as the benefits of involving an experienced and professional M&A process advisor:
Mr Luftensteiner, KEBA just acquired LTI Motion Group, a specialist for drive technology in the smart automation industry. What are the implications of this transaction with respect to KEBA’s business strategy?
The portfolios of KEBA and LTI Motion complement each other perfectly. KEBA is a specialist in control & safety and Human Machine Interfaces in industrial environments, LTI Motion in the area of servo drive technology. The great advantage for our existing and future customers is that this expertise is now bundled. Customers will now receive complete solutions from a single source – from operations, control & safety technology to drive technology – and all this appropriate for their respective industry.
What makes the ability to provide integrated, application-focussed solutions in Automation so important
You need to be able to speak your customers language – both technically and personally. Knowing the processes – e.g. robotics– allows you to judge and meet the requirements of the respective industry immediately – your time to market is significantly faster, because you already know what your new customer wants and needs. You do not have to start from scratch to develop a solution, you build on experience – also of course a benefit to the customer, maybe you can even add the one or other new angle to a solution.
Let’s talk about your competitors – did you put some distance between them and KEBA, maybe even lose a few of them?
It’s not so much who we are not competing with anymore but rather the league of players we are able to see eye-to-eye with now! One of the largest players in the automation market acknowledged we are now one of their competitors – a great compliment from such an established player!
Looking back at this project, what will you remember – apart of the successful completion of course? What were the defining moments during these last couple of months?
During the process, the chemistry and atmosphere on both the executive and operational level was excellent – despite sitting on opposite sides of the negotiation table. I think that the industry know-how of the deal team contributed to that.
Many of your peers from all industries do not involve external M&A advisors prior to the Due Diligence. Why did you?
Stick to your trade! M&A is not our core competence – it is yours, so why not profit from your long-standing expertise of how to handle a process like that? It is actually the same we do with our customers – we know how an Automation Solution should look like, that’s why they hire us: the specialists! MP was an easy choice – not only have we worked in the past, I also cannot think of any other advisor, with that amount of industry insight and track record.
What would you tell a fellow CEO should he ask your opinion and experience on the subject? What is crucial in completing an acquisition successfully?
What I already said – stick to your trade. The M&A advisor knows the workings of the process, both strategically and tactically. I would strongly advise though to pick a partner with knowledge of the industry – this provides a good sparring partner early on, who can also challenge your valuation from an outside perspective. An example from LTI project – MP showed superb situational awareness and feeling for the situation, addressing critical issues in the right way at the right time. This all factors together to execute the perfect deal.
Finally, would you give us a glimpse into the future!
Apart from smart automation – the acquisition of LTI Motion falls into that category – KEBA is also a renowned player in intelligent charging solutions in the area of e-mobility. This market will continue to play a major role going forward– a huge playing ground with lots of room to excel. We intend to continue doing just that.
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