Paslin, a Michigan integrator of welding robots, automation systems, and tooling, was acquired byÂ Wanfeng Technology GroupÂ for an undisclosed amount (but reported asÂ $302Â million in China Daily).
EstablishedÂ inÂ 1937,Â PaslinÂ isÂ an integrator of robot welding and assemblyÂ systems and is a full-service design and build organization serving the automotive industry.Â PaslinÂ alsoÂ provides specialÂ weldingÂ andÂ resistanceÂ spotÂ welding equipment,Â andÂ provides engineered automationÂ systemÂ solutions.Â Paslin employs 700 and has derives most of its salesÂ from customers in the US and Canada.
FoundedÂ inÂ 1994, the Wanfeng group of companies, located 125 miles southeast of Shanghai,Â is mainly known for their auto wheels and aftermarket wheels and auto parts. But it also hasÂ businessesÂ inÂ suchÂ fieldsÂ as robot integration of assembly, welding and painting systems,Â automation equipment,Â magnesiumÂ alloy parts, aviation equipment andÂ financialÂ investments,Â withÂ annualÂ salesÂ ofÂ $3Â billion.
WuÂ Jinhua,Â Wanfeng’sÂ chairmanÂ andÂ CEO,Â said: “PaslinÂ hasÂ accumulatedÂ advanced technologiesÂ andÂ clientÂ groupsÂ inÂ theÂ fieldÂ ofÂ automatedÂ weldingÂ inÂ NorthÂ America,Â andÂ this acquisitionÂ couldÂ notÂ onlyÂ helpÂ PaslinÂ realizeÂ itsÂ globalization,Â butÂ alsoÂ enhanceÂ Wanfeng’s competitivenessÂ inÂ industrialÂ robotÂ systemÂ integrationÂ technology. This acquisition is a win-win situation.”
According to Forbes, besides Zhejiang Wanfeng Auto Wheel, whose customers include Yamaha,Â the Wu clan controls Shenzhen-listed Zhejiang RIFA Precision Machinery,Â a supplier of grinding, boring and other machines.
CHINA’S GROWING ROBOT ARMY
In a recent story in the Financial Times,Â Asia-focused asset management firm Mirae Asset Management forecasts thatÂ China’s robot army will expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 35% until 2020.
Rahul Chadha, chief investment officer of Mirae, says: âUsing the rule thumb that one industrial robot replaces four to five workers, this suggests that robots have rendered more than 1m people jobless.âÂ Mr Chadha, who calculates that robots will replace around 3.5m Chinese workers over the next five years, says: âThe message that comes from the leadership is on improving productivity via automation. They are paranoid about doing things quickly. They believe they have got to because their competitors will do the same.”
THE ACQUISITION MARKETPLACE
Siasun Robot & Automation, China’s most prominent robot manufacturer, announced that they areÂ planning to acquire competitive and domestic international component manufacturers to expand their market presence.
âWe have been in negotiations with potential companies for over a year and we hope to complete these acquisitions by June,â Vice Chairman and President Qu Daokui told ChinaDaily.com.
At present, more than two-thirds of the robotsÂ purchased in China are produced by international vendors but that ratio is rapidly changing. The most recent Chinese National 5-year plan calls for increased use of robots and local governments are supporting the effort with various real estate and tax incentives. Many “deals” have been arranged whereby Chinese venture funds are investing in robotic ventures from Russia, Israel, Silicon Valley and through acquisitions such as the Ninebot acquisition of Segway last year, the current Paslin acquisition and Siasun’s ambitiousÂ plans.