Chattanooga-based FourBridges negotiates sale of equipment manufacturer and other business news

FourBridges negotiates sale of electric equipment maker

FourBridges Capital Advisors announced that Houston, Texas-based IER Electrical Equipment and Controls has been acquired by Chicago Switchboard Inc., a portfolio company of private equity fund Promise Holdings.

Chattanooga-based FourBridges acted as the exclusive investment banker to IER and negotiated and structured the transaction on behalf of IER founder Mike Wolf.

IER is a manufacturer of custom products used for power distribution and motor controls in a wide variety of end markets. Chicago Switchboard, based in Elmhurst, Illinois, has been a leader in quick-ship, custom built electrical distribution equipment since 1936.

Andy Stockett, managing director at FourBridges Capital, said in a statement that IER has established itself as "a go-to custom provider to a number of blue chip customers across the country, and we were pleased to find a partner that will carry on that legacy."

FourBridges Vice President Clay Stockett said in a statement that demand for products made by IER is being driven by the increase in on-shoring of manufacturing back to the U.S. as well as infrastructure upgrades across the electrical grid.

Whirlpool reports loss after sales drop 15.3%

Whirlpool Corp. on Monday reported a loss of $1.61 billion in its fourth quarter after the appliance maker said sales fell by 15.3% in the final three months of calendar 2022.

The Benton Harbor, Michigan-based company said it had a loss of $29.35 per share. Earnings, adjusted for non-recurring costs, came to $3.89 per share.

The maker of Maytag, KitchenAid and other appliances posted revenue of $4.92 billion in the period, which fell short of Street forecasts. Three analysts surveyed by Zacks expected $5.05 billion.

Whirlpool expects full-year earnings in the range of $16 to $18 per share, with revenue expected to be $19.4 billion.

"In 2023, we will reset our cost structure and expect to deliver $800 million to $900 million of cost benefit," Whirlpool CEO Marc Blitzer said in an earnings announcement Monday. "This new cost structure, combined with the expected demand recovery during the second half of the year, has Whirlpool well positioned to deliver sustained shareholder value."

French rail unions strike over pensions

France's national rail operator is recommending that passengers stay home Tuesday to avoid strikes over pension reforms that are expected to cause major transport woes but largely spare high-speed links to Britain, Belgium and the Netherlands.

Labor unions that mobilized massive street protests in an initial salvo of nationwide strikes earlier this month are hoping for similar success Tuesday to maintain pressure on government plans to raise France's retirement age.

Positions are hardening on both sides as lawmakers begin debating the planned change. France's prime minister, Elisabeth Borne, insisted this weekend that her government's intention to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64 is "no longer negotiable." Opponents in parliament and labor leaders are determined to prove her wrong.

Rail operator SNCF warned that major network disruptions were expected from Monday night to Wednesday morning, recommending that passengers cancel or postpone trips and work remotely if possible.

Boeing to boost 737 Max output

Boeing will add a fourth assembly line to produce more 737 Max aircraft, as it tries to more quickly translate a backlog of orders into cash-generating deliveries of new planes.

The new line will open in the second half of next year, according to a note Monday to employees from Stan Deal, the CEO of Boeing's commercial-planes business.

The line will be in an existing facility in Everett, Washington, where space is available because Boeing is shifting production of larger 787s to South Carolina and ending production of the iconic 747.

The plant is about 40 miles north of Boeing's other 737 assembly lines in the Seattle suburb of Renton, one of which has been idle but is being reactivated, Deal said. He said the company is not relocating the entire 737 program, just adding capacity, especially for newer models of the Max.

Volvo to pay fine for recall failures

Volvo Group North America will pay $130 million for failing to recall vehicles quickly enough in a consent order issued by U.S. regulators.

The civil penalty follows a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration investigation that found the company failed to recall vehicles in a timely fashion and fell short of other reporting requirements such as notifying owners of recalls and reporting death and injury incidents.

Volvo Group North America is a collective of several manufacturers of heavy-duty trucks and buses. It is a separate entity from Volvo Cars.

Volvo Group North America has agreed to oversight by an independent third-party auditor and will meet regularly with NHTSA to ensure that it addresses any potential safety issues.

It will also develop and implement a safety data analytics infrastructure to enhance its ability to detect and investigate potential safety defects and develop written procedures and training for its employees on compliance with the Vehicle Safety Act, regulations, and the consent order, as well as a training schedule to ensure that its employees are onboarded and trained appropriately.

— Compiled by Dave Flessner

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