Caterpillar Buying Alternative-Fuel Engine Builder MWM

$810-million purchase diversifies Cats engine product line

Heavy-equipment builder Caterpillar Inc. has agreed to pay $810 million for MWM Holding GmbH, a designer and manufacturer of natural gas, special gases and diesel engines. The seller is 3i, a British private equity group that reportedly outbid Caterpillar for MWM (then called Deutz Power Systems) three years ago.

MWM (Motoren-Werke Mannheim) is a 135-year-old organization with 11 subsidiary companies and 1,100 employees worldwide. The sale will close in the coming months, following final regulatory approvals. In addition to building engines for its own heavy equipment, Caterpillar is among several companies that build engines used as generators in locations where electric power is unavailable, or where a stand-by source of power is needed.

“MWM is recognized for its leading technology and product strength, particularly for its highly efficient range of engines, combined heat and power and trigeneration solutions capable of operating on a wide range of gaseous fuels, including natural gas, biogas, mine gas, and industrial waste gas,” explained Caterpillar CEO Doug Oberhelman. “This is a natural complement to Caterpillar’s existing diesel and gas power generation business and demonstrates our commitment to continued investment in sustainable products and industries.”

MWM will become part of Caterpillar’s Electric Power division, which supplies natural gas and diesel generator sets and integrated power systems involved in the generation, control and supply of electricity. Caterpillar said adding MWM to the division will establish synergy between the two companies’ product lines, engine technologies, R&D projects, manufacturing, distribution, and customer support.

“The gas engines industry is a great fit for Caterpillar’s energy and electric power systems business. Together with the two companies’ premium products, technology and global distribution network, our comprehensive offerings will deliver sustainable power system solutions for our global customers,” stated Bill Rohner, Caterpillar vice president with responsibility for Electric Power.

Peter Wirtz, a partner and managing director of 3i Germany, said his group had executed several “strategic and operational improvement initiatives” at MWM, and made significant investments in its production facilities, R&D programs, and distribution network.

The purchase follows a similar strategy to the one that saw General Electric pay $3 billion for Dresser Industries earlier this month. It builds on a sustained global demand for mining and earthmoving equipment, which is driving several expansion programs for Caterpillar worldwide, and it anticipates a need for alternative-fuel technologies in such equipment.

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