Pro-Bel, Snell & Wilcox To Merge

Infrastructure and video processing specialists team up to gain heft
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Continuing the consolidation trend in the broadcast equipment industry, infrastructure and automation supplier Pro-Bel is merging with video processing specialist Snell & Wilcox.

The deal between the two U.K.-based firms makes sense, as they have many large joint customers like Turner and have already engaged in extensive integration work between their products. It will give them more R&D and sales force heft to better compete with conglomerates like Harris, which swept up a number of small automation and infrastructure suppliers over the past decade, and growing players like Miranda, which acquired routing specialist NVision in a $40 million deal in December.

Financial terms of the transaction have not been disclosed.  The name of the new company will be announced at NAB where the merged companies will share a unified booth.

Former Snell & Wilcox CEO Simon Derry has been named CEO of the combined entity.  He cited a number of market drivers that led to the merger.  He said many clients transitioning to multi-platform distribution and on-demand models as well as the current economic crisis have lead to "some extremely strong, almost tectonic shitfs in market that we're seeing today."

Merging the two companies allows for greater geographic reach and a broader product range, Derry said.  "We believe that putting them together creates a world-leading, competitive business," he said in a conference call with reporters.

The management of the new company includes members of the executive teams of both
companies, including Graham Pitman, CEO of Pro-Bel.  Pitman has been appointed Deputy Chairman of the new company.  The combined company has two thousand active customers in more than 100 countries.

The transaction was supported by private equity investors Lloyds TSB Development Capital (LDC) and Advent Venture Partners.

"For more than thirty years, both Pro-Bel and Snell & Wilcox have offered compelling best-of-breed solutions that help to solve real-world customer issues," said Pitman in a statement. "During this time the two companies have developed highly complementary product ranges with very little overlap; well-deserved reputations for innovation, product quality and reliability; and a joint commitment to excellence in customer service. Through this merger, the new combined company will build on this strong foundation to create one of the industry's great companies."

The only area where the companies product lines overlap is in the modular area where Pro-Bell had the Vistek range and Snell & Wilcox had IQ Modular.  Derry said a joint team had completed a review of the two products and that they will be integrated.

David Tanklefsky contributed reporting to this article.

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