Several Minnesota companies grew in the past year through billion dollar acquisitions, with UnitedHealth Group making the largest.
The most transformative, though, was probably APi Group’s $3.1 billion deal for the Chubb Fire & Security business. By adding Chubb’s 13,000 employees in the deal, APi has doubled its total employment to 26,000. The deal closed at the beginning of this year.
“The integration at Chubb is off to a good start, and the strategic rationale for the transaction is proving even stronger than initially planned,” Russ Becker, chief executive of APi, said in an e-mail. “After having our team on the ground for the last 90 days and working with local leadership, we believe we now see a clear path to value capture opportunities that are up from our initial assessment of $20 million prior to the closing of the acquisition.”
Minnesota has a good track record of smart mergers and acquisitions, said Louis Johnston, professor of economics at the College of St. Benedict and St. John’s University in Collegeville.
Johnston, who has studied the history of business mergers in Minnesota, cites a well-known list of attributes that make the state special, with its education system and human capital at the forefront.
Several Minnesota companies that have been acquired still have substantial operations in the state, Johnston said. That’s in addition to being on the winning end of notable deals.
“A company that wants to expand can always do one of two things: It can invest in itself to try to grow or it could look for specialized knowledge and acquire it,” Johnston said. “Minnesota companies, I think, have been especially good at searching out other companies, and then integrating them.”
UnitedHealth announced a number of deals in 2021, including what would have been the largest deal involving a Minnesota public company during the year. However, its $13.4 billion deal to acquire Tennessee-based Change Healthcare has faced delays as the Department of Justice examines antitrust issues. The companies recently announced a postponement of the closing until the end of 2022.
U.S. Bancorp, Ecolab and Hormel Foods also announced deals valued at more than $3 billion.
Minneapolis-based U.S. Bancorp is paying $8 billion for MUFG Union Bank’s regional banking business from Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group. The deal will expand U.S. Bank’s presence in California, Washington and Oregon.
The deal for the consumer banking business will add 1 million customers and 190,000 small business accounts while raising the bank’s position in the California market from 10th to fifth.
In October, St. Paul-based Ecolab announced a $3.7 billion deal for Purolite, a maker of high-end ion exchange resins for the separation and purification of solutions. It will be the basis for a new life sciences division within Ecolab. Purolite’s products are used in the biopharmaceutical and industrial filtration industries, and the deal gives Ecolab a foundation for additional deals in those areas.
Hormel Food’s deal for the Planter’s nuts business was Hormel’s largest acquisition and helped it branch out into new snack territories. Austin-based Hormel paid $3.4 billion to the Kraft Heinz Co. for the Planter’s business that includes not only nuts but Planters Cheez Balls and Corn Nuts, a favorite of Hormel CEO Jim Snee. The deal closed in June 2021.