Billion pound takeover for Eastbourne-based firm

The Edwards Group, which has a base in Hampden Park, has been snapped up by a Swedish company in a billion pound deal.

The vacuum technology supplier was bought for up to £1.6 billion by Atlas Copco.

Edwards is a world leader in vacuum pumps for the chemical and pharmaceutical sectors.

It is unclear what the move will mean to workers at the Eastbourne plant.

UKIP spokesman and former Eastbourne Borough Councillor and county councillor, Bob Lacey, has welcomed the move

He said, “The acquisition would be welcome if it portects local jobs and future opportunities for expansion here in Eastbourne.”

The Edwards Group was founded in 1919 and was formerly part of the BOC Group.

More than half of Edwards’ income last year came from sales to Asia.

Edwards boss Jim Gentilcore said the deal was ‘strategically and financially compelling’.

“The transaction delivers many benefits for Edwards’ customers and employees,” he added. “The two companies share very similar strategic goals, strong brands and market leading positions.”

Atlas, which has a site in Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, said it plans to create a new vacuum division within its air compressor arm, which will be based in Crawley.

Ronnie Leven, Atlas chief executive, said: “It’s a great fit for Atlas Copco. Edwards is a technology leader with a well established structure and solid customer relationships in industries we know well.”

According to the Financial Times, the purchase of Edwards, a vacuum technology supplier to the world’s biggest chip makers, will reduce the Swedish group’s exposure ot the volatile mining sector.

The deal also represents the end of a seven-year quest by Ronnie Leten, Atlas Copco’s chief executive, the acquire the UK manufacturer.