* Atlas Copco confident on prospects for Isra Vision after
* German company takes Atlas Copco into image-based
* Analysts see scope for further M&A at Sweden's biggest
STOCKHOLM, Sept 9 (Reuters) - Sweden's Atlas Copco
believes its expansion into machine vision through
one of its biggest acquisitions will pay off despite the
disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Machine vision refers to image-based technology performing
tasks from steering robots to inspecting material surfaces for
defects. Atlas Copco's $1.19 billion deal for Germany's Isra
Vision in February marked its first big push into the area, seen
as a central part of further factory automation.
"If you take these two strong trends, automation and in-line
quality control, machine vision is a crucial technology in order
to achieve that," said Henrik Elmin, head of the Industrial
Technique division at Atlas Copco.
"And even though Isra has also been impacted (by the
pandemic)....I don't see any logic to why these trends should
slow down; rather accelerate if anything," he told Reuters in an
Atlas Copco, Sweden's biggest company by market value, makes
compressors, vacuum pumps and industrial tools
Analysts are looking closely at the Isra Vision deal as a
first building block for future M&A as well as expansion within
Atlas Copco now owns over 92% of Isra and has started a
squeeze-out procedure for the remaining shares in the company
based in the city of Darmstadt, south of Frankfurt.
Isra Vision has much like the rest of the industrial sector
been hit by the pandemic, with October-June sales down 19% to 90
million euros ($106 million).
Interest in the plans for Isra Vision is high in light of
Atlas Copco's successful recent acquisition campaign in its
business area of Vacuum Technique, which has seen growth boom,
and now has some 24 billion crowns ($2.7 billion) in annual
"If you look at what they have done in Vacuum, that has been
a fantastic story since 2013 in building a growth platform,
Citi analyst Klas Bergelind said.
And if you look at Isra, short-term you have to integrate
the company, but longer term this could also become a growth
platform as I think there is a story here where they could do
more acquisitions geared towards the industrial segments.
In Industrial Technique, Atlas has built a broad portfolio
of car assembly technologies including adhesives dispensing and
self-pierce riveting, and earlier this year expanded in the
electronics segment with the acquisition of Scheugenpflug.
Although the machine vision industry is highly fragmented,
Isra Vision competes to some extent with firms including Cognex
Elmin believes Atlas can help expand Isra's global
footprint, and sees large potential for its products on a
stand-alone basis and also as part of integrated solutions sold
through Industrial Technique's other divisions.
"But this is a new pillar, a new growth platform, and that's
why we are making it into a division of its own," Elmin said of
Isra, which has grown 9% on average over the past decade.
($1 = 0.8460 euros)
($1 = 8.8307 Swedish crowns)
(Reporting by Johannes Hellstrom
Editing by Keith Weir)