In a note to clients, Steve Winoker of the New York analyst Sanford C Bernstein, said that Schneider was preparing a takeover offer for Rockwell, which he described as “an extremely attractive asset”.
“Our experience with Schneider suggests that they can be very aggressive on the acquisition front when they want an asset,” he added.
According to a recent league table of global automation suppliers compiled by ARC Advisory Group and Control magazine, Schneider is in fourth position with 2015 revenues of $6.36bn, followed by Rockwell Automation in fifth position on $5.87bn. (The top three positions are held by Siemens, ABB and Emerson.)
Rockwell employs around 22,000 people and has customers in more than 80 countries. In 2015, its sales fell by 5% to $6.3bn, but it ended the year with 1% organic growth.
Over the years, Rockwell Automation has been the subject of many takeover rumours, none of which have come to fruition.