Johnson Controls to buy Energy Connect for $32.3 million

Johnson Controls' move follows a recent trend of large players snapping up smaller tech companies with ready-made grid demand response programs.

Sample of the GridConnect dashboard EnergyConnect

Building systems management giant Johnson Controls announced yesterday it has signed an agreement to acquire the EnergyConnect Group. EnergyConnect, based in Campbell, Calif., announced that this will be a cash deal totaling $32.3 million.

The demand response technology company EnergyConnect is best known for GridConnect, its software platform for enhancing electrical-grid efficiency, especially in the cases of regional shortages or peak pricing changes.

The system includes real-time monitoring of energy markets, as well as energy information.

"The $0.2253 per share acquisition price represents a significant cash premium of approximately 73 percent over the previous closing share price on March 2, 2011. Combining forces with Johnson Controls' extensive market reach would enable us to provide complete end-to-end demand response solutions to a significantly expanded customer base," EnergyConnect CEO Kevin R. Evans said in a statement.

Evans is no stranger to tech acquisition. In 2003 Evans was the CFO of Placeware, and is credited with negotiating the sale of the Web-based collaboration services company to Microsoft.

Wisconsin-based Johnson Controls follows a recent trend of large players snapping up smaller tech companies with ready-made grid demand response programs. For example, in May Honeywell acquired Akuacom, and in October Siemens acquired Site Controls.

The moves are a natural fit as the tech start-up provides a ready-made offering in grid technology services for existing customers of the parent company, while that parent company opens up a far-reaching global client list to its smaller tech counterpart.

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