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ABB, formerly ASEA Brown Boveri, is a Swissmarker-Swedishmarker multinational corporation headquartered in Zürichmarker, Switzerland, operating mainly in the power and automation technology areas. ABB is one of the largest engineering companies as well as one of the largest conglomerate companies in the world. ABB has operations in around 100 countries, with approximately 115,000 employees (2008).

ABB is traded on the SIX Swiss Exchange under the Virt-x financial system based in Zurich, the Stockholm Stock Exchange in Swedenmarker, and the New York Stock Exchangemarker in the United Statesmarker.


ABB is the world's largest builder of electricity grids and is active in many sectors with its core businesses in power and automation technology.

Power Products

The division incorporates ABB's manufacturing network for transformers, switchgear, circuit breakers, cables, and associated high voltage and medium voltage equipment such as digital protective relays. Power Products are the key components to transmit and distribute electricity. It also offers all the services needed to ensure products' performance and extend their lifespan. The division is subdivided into three business units - High Voltage Products, Medium Voltage Products and Transformers

Power Systems

Power Systems offers turnkey systems and service for power transmission and distribution grids, and for power plants. Electrical substations and substation automation systems are key areas. Additional highlights include flexible alternating current transmission systems , high-voltage direct current systems and network management systems. In power generation, Power Systems offers the instrumentation, control and electrification of power plants. The division is subdivided into four business units - Grid Systems, Substations, Network Management, and Power Generation.

Automation Products

It provides products to improve customers' productivity, including drives, electric motors and generators, low voltage products, instrumentation and analytical, and power electronics. The customer profile of this division includes a wide range of industry and utility operations, plus commercial and residential buildings.

Process Automation

The main focus of this ABB business is to provide customers with integrated solutions for control, plant optimization, and industry-specific application knowledge. The industries served include oil and gas, power, chemicals and pharmaceuticals, pulp and paper, metals and minerals, marine and turbocharging.


ABB has one of the world's largest installed bases of industrial robots also providing robot software, peripheral equipment and modular manufacturing cells. ABB's robots are provided for tasks such as thermal spraying (plasma, HVOF), welding, assembly, painting and finishing, picking, packing, palletizing and machine tending. Key markets include automotive, plastics, metal fabrication, foundry, packaging, material handling, and food & beverage industries. In 2006 ABB's global robotics headquarters moved to Shanghai, Chinamarker and in 2007 ABB added a manufacturing unit for industrial robots in China serving the local market.

Other areas of activity

The company's Building Systems still operates in a handful of countries. It provides integrated solutions for building facilities encompassing indoor air quality, building automation as well as power distribution and management. In the UK, ABB has supplied and installed Highway / Street / Public Lighting for developers, councils and others. In Australia, ABB plays a major role in the installation and maintenance of the country's copper-wire telephone network or 'local loop' (owned by Telstra).


ABB resulted from the 1988 merger of Swedishmarker and Swissmarker corporations ASEA and BBC Brown Boveri (Brown, Boveri & Cie), the latter had absorbed the Maschinenfabrik Oerlikon in 1967. CEO at the time of the merger was the former CEO of ASEA, Percy Barnevik, who ran the company until 1996.

ABB's history goes back to the late nineteenth century. ASEA was incorporated in 1883 and Brown, Boveri & Cie (BBC) was formed in 1891.

In the early 1990s, ABB purchased Combustion Engineering (C-E) headquartered in Stamfordmarker and Norwalk, Connecticutmarker, a leading U.S.marker firm in the development of conventional fossil fuel power and nuclear power supply systems to break into the North American market. Continuing with its expansion plans, ABB purchased ELSAG BAILEY in 1997, which included Bailey Controls, Hartmann & Braun, and Fischer & Porter. This was the largest acquisition to date in ABB's history.

ABB bought International Combustion Ltd from Rolls-Royce in 1997.

In 2000, ABB signed a contract for the delivery of equipment and services for two North Koreanmarker nuclear powerplants to be supplied under an agreement with the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organizationmarker (KEDO), a consortium formed in 1995 by the governments of the United States, Japan, South Korea and the European Union. Also in 2000, ABB formally divested from a joint venture named ABB-Alstom Power and sold its interest in conventional power generation systems and rail transportation to Alstom Power. ABB's nuclear business was sold to BNFL and merged into Westinghouse Electric Company.

In 2002 ABB asked Lindahl, the company's former chief executive, to return some of his $50 million retirement pay, which its board called excessive. ABB also asked its former chairman Percy Barnevik to pay back part of his $87 million pension package. The size of the pensions was disclosed at the same time as ABB's huge $691 million net loss for 2001 made headlines and drew sharp criticism in Switzerland and Sweden.

ABB was formally listed on the New York Stock Exchangemarker in 2001. Also during that year, ABB was ranked as number one on the Dow Jones corporate sustainability index for the third year in a row.

ABB went through a reorganization in 2005 to focus on the company's core business of power and automation technologies. The reorganization created the current structure of ABB with five business sectors (units) consisting of Power Products, Power Systems, Automation Products, Process Automation, and Robotics.

In 2006, ABB returned to financial health by settling its asbestos liability regarding claims that were filed against ABB's U.S. subsidiaries, Combustion Engineering and Lummus Global. In August 2007, Lummus Global was sold to CB&I.

History of leadership

On July 17, 2008, the Board of Directors of ABB Ltd. announced that Joseph Hogan has been appointed Chief Executive Officer of the ABB Group as of September first. Mr. Hogan is the former head of GE Healthcare. Mr. Hogan holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from Geneva Collegemarker and an MBA from Robert Morris Universitymarker, both located in Pennsylvaniamarker.

Former CEOs:

The Board of Directors is chaired by Hubertus von Grünberg. He took over the position in May 2007, following the retirement of Jürgen Dormann, who had chaired the board since 2002.

Former Board Members:

Primary investors

Fully half of ABB's shareholders reside in Swedenmarker. The largest single stake in the firm is held by the Swedish investment company Investor AB, controlled by the Wallenberg family, which holds 7.3%.

See also


  3. CorpWatch: UN: Swedish Businessman Loses Job
  4. CB&I to buy Lummus Global from ABB
  5. ABB: ABB appoints Joseph Hogan as new CEO
  6. ABB Board of Directors

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