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ABB CEO eyes more buys, but no plans for Rockwell
ZURICH (Reuters) - ABB (ABBN.VX) is considering closing gaps in its automation and transmission portfolio via acquisitions but has no plans to bid for U.S. engineering company Rockwell (ROK.N), the Swiss-listed engineering firm's chief was quoted as saying on Monday.
ABB, which competes with Germany's Siemens (SIEGn.DE) and France's Alstom (ALSO.PA) and Schneider (SCHN.PA), develops products used by oil, mining and utility companies, and it hopes a global push to upgrade electrical grid infrastructure and use energy more efficiently will help its business.
"Via acquisitions we could fill blank spots in automation and industrial control technology. In the area of industrial control technology we're going for smaller buys," Chief Executive Joe Hogan told Germany's Handelsblatt newspaper.
"From time to time there are rumors that we want to buy Rockwell. I can say it's not true."
Under Hogan, a U.S. citizen, ABB has used its war chest to boost its presence in North America, buying industrial motor firm Baldor Electric for $4.2 billion in 2010 and spending more than $1 billion on U.S. software firm Ventyx.
ABB has said acquisitions could potentially add another 3 to 4 percent to its overall growth rate, and it has allocated between $9 billion and $18 billion for acquisitions over a five-year period from 2011.
Emerging markets, particularly in Asia, are key to ABB's growth prospects, although the firm has had to battle with lower-priced local competitors in China.
Hogan said ABB was feeling the slowing growth in China, especially in the building sector.
"But after the acquisitions in the USA we have a better balance," he said, adding that weaker demand in some regions could usually be offset in other areas.
In response to a question about whether Asia would continue to drive growth, Hogan said: "I worry about India. The country has enormous potential. But it suffers from a high trade deficit, strong inflation and has only a bit of room to maneuver on fiscal policy."
"I'm keen to see what happens there in the next 12 months. The country has gotten so important as an economic power."
(Reporting by Catherine Bosley; Editing by Mark Potter)
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