ABB (company)

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

legal form Corporation
ISIN CH0012221716
founding February 8, 1988
Seat Zurich , SwitzerlandSwitzerlandSwitzerland 
management Björn Rosengren
(Chief Executive Officer )

Peter Voser
( Chairman of the Board of Directors )

Number of employees 110,000 (2020)
sales $ 28 billion (2019)
Branch Energy and automation technology
As of December 31, 2019

The ABB Ltd. ( abbreviation for A sea B rown B overi) is an energy and automation technology group headquartered in Zurich , in 1988 from the merger of the Swedish ASEA and the Swiss BBC emerged. The group operates worldwide and employs around 110,000 people in 100 countries. The shares are listed on the SIX Swiss Exchange , the Stockholm Stock Exchange and the New York Stock Exchange and are listed in the Swiss Market Index and in the OMX Stockholm 30 .

Business areas

ABB's business activities are divided into four global business areas: electrification, industrial automation, drive technology, and robotics and manufacturing automation, which in turn are made up of specific divisions with a focus on specific industries and product categories.

Electrification division

Switching device for the distributor from ABB

The division offers technologies across the entire electrification value chain - from the substation to the point of consumption.

The portfolio includes digital and networked innovations that improve the reliability and efficiency of electrical installations in low and medium voltage. These include: the charging infrastructure for electric vehicles, solar inverters, modular substations, solutions for distribution automation , switchgear , sensor technology and controls as well as KNX systems for the automation and networking of building infrastructure.

Robotics and Manufacturing Automation division

The Robotics and Manufacturing Automation division offers products, solutions and services to increase industrial productivity and energy efficiency.

With its motors , generators , drives and robots , the division provides energy, drive and control technologies for numerous automation applications. The focus on industry is supplemented by the leadership position in the areas of wind generators and traction converters.

Power Grids division (sold to Hitachi)

The Power Grids division is a provider of energy and automation products, systems and service solutions across the entire value chain of electricity generation, transmission and distribution.

It supplies customers from the utilities, industry and the transport and infrastructure sector both directly and through sales partners. The division concentrates on key areas such as the integration of renewable energies, growing network complexity, network automation and microgrids. In addition, within the framework of lifecycle concepts, it offers a wide range of consulting, services and solutions for plant management.

The power grid division - historically part of the company's origins - was sold to the Hitachi group in 2018 and is therefore no longer part of ABB.

Industrial automation division

The portfolio of the industrial automation division comprises the entire spectrum of products and solutions for instrumentation, automation and optimization of industrial processes, as well as the area of ​​exhaust gas turbocharging. Target industries include: chemicals, oil and gas, energy, paper and pulp, water and wastewater, metals, marine, cement, and open pit mining.


ABB was created on February 8, 1988 from the merger of the Swedish Allmänna Svenska Elektriska Aktiebolaget (ASEA) and the Swiss Brown, Boveri & Cie. (BBC) to Asea Brown Boveri (ABB) . ASEA and BBC bundled their business in ABB Asea Brown Boveri Ltd. based in Zurich , where they each held 50 percent. In 1996 ASEA AB was renamed ABB AB and BBC Brown Boveri AG was renamed ABB AG , but they remained independent, listed companies ( dual-listed company ). In 1999 the two companies became ABB Ltd. with headquarters in Zurich. This merger, which made ABB the world's number three in electrical engineering, was considered a milestone in economic history at the time. The most important products of the group were power plants, in particular gas turbines , steam turbines and combined cycle power plants , locomotives , turbochargers and electrical switchgear .


The then Chairman of the Management Board, Percy Barnevik , bought other companies on a large scale over the next few years. In February 1996, he was elected to the Board of Directors at the General Meeting of Shareholders and at the same time held the position of Chief Executive Officer of ABB. One of the acquired companies, the American Combustion Engineering (CE), was confronted with huge claims for damages from asbestos victims in the USA in the nineties , which brought ABB, as the legal successor, to the verge of collapse in 2002, as it was already through the follow-up costs (damages , Deadline delays, contract buybacks, repair costs, etc.) which was massively brought onto the market but not fully developed or tested, the latest GT24 or GT26 gas turbine types, and there were further demands from customers. The settlement negotiated with the US plaintiffs in the CE case was approved by the competent US court on April 1, 2006. Barnevik stepped down from the Board of Directors in November 2001 and received a severance payment of 148 million Swiss francs, which is still considered the largest severance payment of all time.

At the end of 1996, the Swede Göran Lindahl, whose management was largely shaped by divestments, became chairman of the group management after Barnevik. The traffic engineering subsidiaries were merged with those of Daimler-Benz on January 1, 1996 in the joint venture ABB Daimler-Benz Transportation (Adtranz) . The decision to exit the joint venture was made in the 1998 financial year and the 50 percent stake was sold to Daimler-Benz on September 30, 1998.

Similarly, the power plant division bundled in ABB Kraftwerke AG was merged with that of Alstom on June 30, 1999 . The ABB Kraftwerke AG was first as a joint venture in ABB Alstom Power renamed and a short time later in Alstom (Switzerland). As early as April 2000, the Nuclear Systems division was sold to British Nuclear Fuels (BNFL), and in May 2000 the entire business division was given up with the sale of the 50 percent stake in Alstom in order, on the one hand, to cover the further financial burdens of GT24 / 26 -Orders as well as the redevelopment and elimination of construction errors of the two gas turbine types. The sales proceeds of the division were urgently u. a. needed for the combustion engineering problem. The sale of the power plant division ensured the survival of ABB, but also had a negative effect on the other areas of the group, many of which were suppliers to the power plant division.

Lindahl was reinforced in this short-term corporate policy by financiers such as Martin Ebner and Jacob Wallenberg , who - like Lindahl himself - were elected to the Board of Directors at the General Meeting in March 1999.

For increasing the automation division was in January 1999 for about 2.2 billion US dollars , the Elsag Bailey Process Automation NV purchased and integrated into the Group, including the long-established company Hartmann & Braun . With the new direction of approach, Lindahl gave up management of the company at the end of 2000 and also stepped down from the board of directors - a year before Barnevik.


In 2000 the ABB celebrated its 100th anniversary due to the history of the former BBC, although it has only existed in this form for twelve years. In Germany, this was combined with the beginning of the “Tour Futur” campaign, a future-oriented redesign process by ABB. The Swede Bengt Pihl became the new head of Germany. The declared goal of management was to become number 1 in all competing business sectors compared to Siemens . Business areas of the "old technology" such as power plant and wastewater treatment technology as well as the turbine business were consequently reduced.

From January 1, 2001, the IT-oriented Jörgen Centerman was the chairman of the management board. One measure in this regard was the total integration of the IT specialists and PC service providers who had previously worked for CSC Ploenzke . Following the example of the SBS , these were initially transferred to the internal business unit “KIS” (communication & information systems), but after the general decline of the IT market after 2001, they were only later outsourced and finally sold in full.

Due to the overall wrong strategy, Centerman had to vacate his chair shortly afterwards. During this time, the shares lost up to 70 percent of their value. As an emergency measure, the entire group was restructured in the area of ​​management and the previous managers of the individual business areas were largely disempowered. Instead, seven so-called business area managers were deployed, who flew in from Switzerland on a daily basis to advise and monitor the local management.

From September 5, 2002 to December 31, 2004, Jürgen Dormann headed the group as Chairman of the Management Board and was replaced on January 1, 2005 by Fred Kindle , who had previously been Chairman of the Management Board of Sulzer AG . Dormann, who was first elected to the Board of Directors in 1998, was also Chairman of the Board of Directors from 2002 until his resignation at the General Meeting in 2007. Under his leadership, various corporate divisions that were no longer part of the core business were sold, including at the beginning of 2004 the ABB building technology division , from which the ETAVIS group emerged. In the following AGM, the physicist Hubertus von Grünberg was newly elected to the Board of Directors and was immediately elected to the office of Chairman of the Board.

In August 2007, an agreement was reached with the Dutch Chicago Bridge & Iron Company (CB&I) to sell the Lummus Global division. In the 2006 financial year, the company had sales of around 988 million US dollars and employed around 2,400 people. After approval by the authorities and the CB&I shareholders, the transaction valued at US $ 950 million was completed on November 19, 2007. In the course of the divestment , ABB discovered questionable payments made by Lummus Global and reported them - any fines for which ABB is liable could not yet be quantified.

On February 13, 2008, Fred Kindle resigned from office and left the company; the reason given was "irreconcilable differences over the management of the company". On an interim basis, group management was transferred to CFO Michel Demaré. In mid-July, the Board of Directors announced that Joseph Hogan had been appointed as the new Chief Executive Officer of ABB effective September 1, 2008; prior to joining, Hogan served as president of GE Healthcare , the medical technology division of General Electric .

Nuclear power plant equipment for North Korea

In 2000 Donald Rumsfeld was still on the board of ABB before he became Secretary of Defense of the United States of America from 2001 to 2006 under the presidency of George W. Bush . This year ABB signed an order for the supply of equipment and services for two North Korean reactors at the Kŭmho nuclear power plant . The latter were delivered under an agreement with the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization (KEDO), a consortium formed in 1995 by the governments of the United States, Japan, South Korea and the European Union.


In 2013 it was announced that Joe Hogan was stepping down for personal reasons. In June 2013, the Board of Directors unanimously appointed Ulrich Spiesshofer , formerly a member of the Executive Committee for the Industrial Automation and Drives division, as the new Chairman of the Executive Board. At the 2015 AGM, Peter Voser replaced Hubertus von Grünberg as Chairman of the Board. Voser was ABB's CFO from 2002 to 2004 and most recently headed the Dutch Royal Dutch Shell as CEO .

In July 2013, ABB acquired the world's second largest solar inverter manufacturer Power-One, Inc. from Camarillo , California.

On April 4, 2017, it became known that ABB had taken over the Upper Austrian company Bernecker & Rainer (B&R), based in Eggelsberg in the Innviertel region, and with a total of 3000 employees.

In 2017/2018, ABB took over the electrical division GE Industrial Solutions from the US company General Electric for 2.6 billion dollars (2.17 billion euros) .

In 2017, ABB invested 10 million euros in a Northvolt battery factory .

On December 17, 2018, as part of the Group's transformation, ABB announced the sale of 80.1% of its Power Grids division valued at approximately $ 7.8 billion to Japanese electrical and mechanical engineering company Hitachi . ABB has an option to sell the remaining 19.9% ​​after three years. This affects around 36,000 employees. ABB Semiconductors, with its production facility in Lenzburg , also goes to Hitachi .

Company data

Sales for the entire group amounted to around 34.3 billion US dollars in fiscal year 2017, and consolidated net income was around 2.2 billion US dollars.

The largest single shareholder of ABB is the Swedish Investor AB with around 10.71% of the share capital and voting rights . Another 5.3% of the share capital and voting rights are held by Cevian Capital and 3.3% by Blackrock . The remaining share capital is distributed among an estimated 4,130,000 shareholders, none of whom have reached the three percent reporting requirement (as of February 22, 2018).

Group structure

The ABB Group consists of over 330 consolidated subsidiaries worldwide.


ABB employs around 3850 people in Switzerland. The important Swiss subsidiaries include

  • ABB Switzerland AG
  • ABB Asea Brown Boveri Ltd


With a turnover of 2.81 billion euros in 2019 and around 8,500 employees, Germany is one of the world's most important locations within the ABB Group. In Germany, for example, ABB has the following subsidiaries:

  • ABB AG, seat in Mannheim
  • ABB Automation GmbH (Mannheim)
  • ABB Automation Products GmbH (Cottbus)
  • ABB Grundbesitz GmbH
  • ABB Logistics Center Europe in Menden (Sauerland)
  • ABB Stotz-Kontakt GmbH
  • ABB Stotz-Kontakt / Striebel & John Vertriebsgesellschaft mbH
  • ABB Striebel & John GmbH
  • Busch-Jaeger Elektro GmbH
  • ABB Kaufel GmbH (Berlin)
  • ABB Solar GmbH (Emmendingen)


Chief Executive Officer

Chairman of the Board of Directors :

  • since April 2015: Peter Voser

Important former board members:


  • Kevin Barham, Claudia Heimer: ABB: the dancing giant. Creating the globally connected corporation. Financial Times et al. a., London 1998, ISBN 0-273-62861-5 .
  • Catrina Werner: FIG. The betrayed vision. Orell Füssli, Zurich 2003, ISBN 3-280-06004-4 .

Web links

Commons : ABB Group  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ↑ Extract from the commercial register for the Canton of Zurich. Retrieved November 26, 2017 .
  2. ABB Announces Details of Exchange Offers for New Single Share. In: Retrieved May 30, 2017 .
  3. a b ABB appoints Björn Rosengren as CEO. In: August 12, 2019, accessed February 27, 2020 .
  4. a b ABB: About ABB. (html) Retrieved July 12, 2020 .
  5. ABB: Annual Report 2019 (pdf) Accessed on May 23, 2020 .
  6. SIX Swiss Exchange - ABB Ltd. In: Retrieved May 30, 2017 .
  7. Our business areas | FIG. Retrieved July 12, 2020 .
  8. ABB works in silence for Tesla's success , NZZ, February 6, 2018
  9. ^ Dow Jones News: ABB sells power grids business to Hitachi. In: December 17, 2018, accessed January 22, 2020 .
  10. ^ Hans E. Wettstein: Gas turbines and combined systems. In: Franz Betschon , Stefan Betschon, Jürg Lindecker, Willy Schlachter (eds.): Engineers build Switzerland. First-hand history of technology. Verlag Neue Zürcher Zeitung, Zurich 2013, ISBN 978-3-03823-791-4 , pp. 82-102.
  11. Walter Hossli: The energy of water vapor. In: Franz Betschon , Stefan Betschon, Jürg Lindecker, Willy Schlachter (eds.): Engineers build Switzerland. First-hand history of technology. Verlag Neue Zürcher Zeitung, Zurich 2013, ISBN 978-3-03823-791-4 , pp. 72–82.
  12. Michael Jung: More power, less fuel. Swiss turbocharger In: Franz Betschon, Stefan Betschon, Willy Schlachter (Ed.): Engineers build Switzerland. First-hand history of technology. Volume 2. Verlag Neue Zürcher Zeitung, Zurich 2014, ISBN 978-3-03823-912-3 , pp. 214-233.
  13. Asbestos comparison with ABB under one roof. In: NZZ Online , April 2, 2006
  14. ABB sells Lummus Global to CB&I. Media release of August 27, 2007.
  15. ^ ABB completes sale of Lummus Global. Media release of November 19, 2007
  16. ABB boss Fred Kindle leaves the company. Media release of February 13, 2008.
  17. ABB appoints Joseph Hogan as new CEO. Media release of July 17, 2008
  18. Press release: ABB to deliver systems, equipment to North Korean nuclear plants. (No longer available online.) In: ABB. January 20, 2000, archived from the original on June 23, 2009 ; Retrieved September 13, 2009 .
  19. Randeep Ramesh: The two faces of Rumsfeld. In: The Guardian . May 9, 2003, accessed May 30, 2017 .
  20. Surprising resignation: ABB boss Joe Hogan throws down. In: manager magazin. May 10, 2013, accessed May 30, 2017 .
  21. ABB appoints Ulrich Spiesshofer as new CEO. In: Retrieved May 30, 2017 .
  22. ABB acquires Power-One. In: , April 22, 2013
  23. ABB completes acquisition of Power-One. In: , July 25, 2013
  24. Swiss ABB buys GE's Industrial Solutions division ., September 25, 2017, accessed September 25, 2017
  25. ABB believes in Northvolt's battery factory , Ingrid Meissl Årebo on NZZ online from September 26, 2017, accessed on May 28, 2018.
  26. Press release: Realignment to become the technology leader for digital industries. (PDF) In: December 17, 2018, accessed December 17, 2018 .
  27. ABB sells power grid division to Hitachi for $ 11 billion - including Lenzburg. In: . December 17, 2018, accessed December 17, 2018 .
  28. Group reports. Retrieved on August 16, 2017 .
  29. The power struggle between Sweden and Switzerland has been decided
  30. Key figures | FIG. Retrieved July 12, 2020 .
  31. ABB Group | ABB STRIEBEL & JOHN. In: Retrieved December 13, 2019 .