Johnson Controls Sells Battery Unit for $13.2B

The sale to Brookfield Business Partners "marks a significant milestone in the ongoing transformation of the Johnson Controls portfolio."
Matthew HellerNovember 13, 2018

Johnson Controls said Tuesday it had agreed to sell its power solutions unit to investment firm Brookfield Business Partners for $13.2 billion in a move to focus on its building technologies and solutions business.

The power solutions unit makes and distributes about 154 million lead-acid batteries for passenger cars and light trucks annually. According to Reuters, analysts have said the unit carries higher margins but has been capital intensive for Johnson Controls.

The sale of the business to Brookfield is the biggest shake-up at Johnson Controls since its merger in 2016 with Tyco International.

“Today’s announcement marks a significant milestone in the ongoing transformation of the Johnson Controls portfolio,” CEO George Oliver said in a news release.

He noted that the deal will “create value for investors by streamlining our portfolio and giving us increased financial flexibility to strengthen our balance sheet, return capital to shareholders and create optionality in our buildings business.”

“This focused portfolio will allow us to capitalize on secular growth trends and to deliver strong financial performance through improved free cash flow conversion, lower capital intensity and continued margin expansion,” Oliver added.

Johnson Controls has been conducting a strategic review of its portfolio. The power solutions unit generated $8 billion in revenue and $1.68 billion in EBITDA in the year ended Sept 30, 2018.

With the sale, “Johnson Controls becomes a pure-play building technologies and solutions provider that is better positioned to lead the integration and evolution of the connected building and to capture strategic opportunities in the HVAC industry,” Oliver said.

The building business makes heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems, as well as building access control and fire detection systems.

Brookfield is partnering in the deal with Canadian pension fund company Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec. It is affiliated with Brookfield Asset Management.

Net cash proceeds from the transaction are expected to be $11.4 billion after tax and transaction-related expenses. Johnson Controls expects to deploy $3 billion to $3.5 billion of the proceeds toward reducing debt.

In trading Tuesday, the company’s shares rose 2.5% to $35.04.