Getting connected

Paul Boughton

Bel Fuse is dramatically increasing its role in the connector market with its latest acquisitions, writes Nick Flaherty.

It is buying the Network Power Connectivity Solutions (ECS) business of Emerson  in a $98m deal to give it High-performance RF/Microwave and Harsh Environment Optical Connectors and Assemblies for military, aerospace, wireless communications, data communications, broadcast and industrial applications.

ECS has a global sales footprint and a diverse customer base that includes some of the world's largest manufacturers coupled with an extensive distribution networ. The ECS division owns connector brands such as Stratos optical technologies, Johnson, Trompeter, Midwest Microwave, Semflex, Vitelec Electronics, AIM Electronics and Cambridge Products.

"This is Bel's third major acquisition in the past 14 months; all together, these acquisitions will increase our revenue from $283 million, pre-acquisition, to approximately $705 million annually,” said Dan Bernstein, Bel's president. “The acquisition of ECS is a major step forward in our strategy to expand into the aerospace and military markets where long term product reliability resulting from highly engineered solutions is a key. The addition of the ECS Stratos brand with our Fibreco/Gigacom Interconnect products will give us an industry leading position in the Expanded Beam Fiber Optic market place. The ECS group also significantly expands our copper-based product offering with the addition of RF/Microwave connectors and assemblies.”

ECS is headquartered in Bannockburn, Illinois, and has manufacturing facilities in North America, the UK and China, with a total of 525 employees world-wide. 

This follows the $117m acquisition of ABB’s Power-One Power Solutions business in April and the transpower magnetic division of TE Connectivity last year. Among the integrated connector module (ICM) products included in the Transpower acquisition are RJ45 connectors for 10/100, 1G, 10G and PoE/PoE+ capable, MRJ21 connectors, RJ.5 connectors and a line of modules for smart-grid applications and discrete magnetics. Bel also received a license to produce products using TE’s planar embedded magnetics technology.

These follow the acquisition of Array Connector last year, a private, Miami-based manufacturer of aerospace and mil-spec connector products for more than 20 years. 

“With products including miniature 38999 connectors for military communications applications, ARINC809/EN4165 connectors for in-flight entertainment applications, and a line of filtered connectors primarily for military/aerospace applications, the acquisition significantly expands Cinch’s product offerings. Array’s modern machining and moulding facilities increase Cinch’s production capacity, and the acquisition also brings new customers, important intellectual property, and strong engineering capabilities. Combined with our recently announced joint venture with Radiall and our other recent acquisitions, we believe this will substantially strengthen Cinch’s position as a first tier provider to domestic and international aerospace, military and commercial customers,” said Bernstein.