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ITT to buy YSI Incorporated

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The multinational company ITT Corporation and YSI Incorporated announced this week that they had come to an agreement for ITT to purchase the Yellow Springs company. The action will take place sometime in the third quarter of 2011.

“We thought it was a good fit,” YSI Executive Vice President Gayle Rominger said in a phone interview Monday. “They’re in the water business and have a good reputation and good products.”

ITT Corporation is an international diversified manufacturing company with global markets including water and fluids management, defense and security and motion and flow control, according to Wikipedia. The company has 40,000 employees worldwide and revenues of about $11 billion annually.

YSI Incorporated is a leading developer and manufacturer of sensors, instruments, software and data collection platforms for environmental water monitoring. The local company has about 390 employees worldwide and 181 in Yellow Springs, and is the village’s largest employer. In 2010 it had revenues of $101 million.

Company leaders expect that YSI will continue to be located in Yellow Springs, according to Rominger.

“The plan all along is we were looking for a partner interested in keeping the facilities in place,” Rominger said on Monday. “It’s our understanding that’s their plan.”

However, Rominger declined to comment on whether there is a written agreement or contractual assurance that YSI will remain in the village. An ITT spokesperson stated that no interviews with that company would be granted until the sale was final.

YSI President Rick Omlor announced in March that the company was seeking a buyer in response to the need for liquidity of shareholders, who include nonprofits, colleges, universities and retired employees. Antioch College is among the company’s largest shareholders.

YSI Incorporated began in 1948 as Yellow Springs Instruments, and the company was first housed in the basement of the Antioch College science building.

“If all else were equal, I would prefer that YSI remain independent,” Hardy Trolander, the company’s co-founder and longtime president, said in a phone interview on Monday. “But under the circumstances, I support the actions of the YSI board under the leadership of Rick Omlor and Kris Joshi,” who is the lead director of the company’s board.

Regarding any potential change in the structure or employee base of YSI, Rominger said this week that it is premature to speculate on changes.

“The acquisition hasn’t closed yet,” she said. “When it’s closed we’ll work together to grow our business.”

Now headquartered in White Plains, N.Y., ITT began in 1920 as International Telephone and Telegraph, and grew to one of the country’s largest conglomerates. Declassified CIA documents linked the company to the financing of the 1973 overthrow of the democratically elected socialist government in Chile, according to Wikipedia. At the time, ITT owned 70 percent of the Chilean telephone company.

ITT divested its telecommunications assets in 1986 and spun off non-manufacturing divisions in 1995. In that year ITT split into three separate public companies.

The company’s defense segment is one of the 10 largest contractors for U.S. military operations, according to Wikipedia. In 2008, the company was included in the Forbes magazine list of “America’s Best Managed Companies.”

Currently, ITT’s water business is the world’s largest supplier of pumps and systems to transport, treat and control water and other fluids. The company has announced its intention to create a new stand-alone water company separate from ITT later this year.

In an interview Tuesday, Village Manager Mark Cundiff said he was not aware of the acquisition until this week. He is hopeful that ITT’s plans to create a stand-alone water company could mean that more jobs are coming to Yellow Springs.

In the press release jointly issued by ITT and YSI on Monday, Gretchen McClain, future chief executive officer of the new water company, stated, “The addition of YSI is the next logical step in our strategy to acquire attractive companies whose businesses complement our existing water portfolio.”


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