The Federal Trade Commission has appointed a trustee to find an entity to launch a low-voltage industrial fuse manufacturing business to be operated in competition with Cooper Industries, Inc., following Cooper's failure to find a licensee. Under a 1993 consent order issued by the FTC to settle charges over the company's acquisition of the Fusegear Group from BTR PLC, Cooper was required to license the right to technology and know-how formerly owned by Brush Fuses Inc. (part of the BTR Fusegear Group) and to divest to the licensee whatever Brush Fuses assets the licensee chooses to acquire. The licensing and divestiture provisions are designed to restore competition that allegedly was substantially reduced by Cooper's acquisition of Brush Fuses, and thereby keep prices for the fuses competitive.
Low-voltage industrial fuses are expendable devices designed to protect people, electrical systems and equipment -- such as heavy-duty lighting and motors for such industrial equipment as welding tools and fork lifts -- from damage or injury caused by excessive current or short circuits. Cooper was required by the 1993 consent order to accomplish the licensing and accompanying divestiture by October 1994. After an extensive search for a trustee, the FTC has appointed Homer J. Blalock, an El Paso, Texas-based specialist in small-business acquisitions and divestitures, to accomplish the licensing and divestiture.
Cooper is based in Houston, Texas. It acquired Brush Fuses and two other companies that make up the BTR Fusegear Group in 1993 for $32 million. The 1993 FTC consent order settling charges over the acquisition permitted Cooper to go ahead with the deal only so long as it agreed to undertake the required licensing and divestiture and to abide by certain other requirements.
The Commission vote to appoint the trustee in this matter was 5-0.
Copies of the 1993 consent order and other documents associated with this case are available from the FTC's Public Reference Branch, Room 130, 6th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580; 202-326-2222; TTY for the hearing impaired 1-866-653-4261. To find out the latest news as it is announced, call the FTC NewsPhone recording at 202-326-2710. FTC news releases and other materials also are available on the Internet at the FTC's World Wide Web site at: http://www.ftc.gov
(FTC Docket No. C-3469)