South Africa is showing several signs of becoming one of the world's fastest-growing economies, and its growth potential recently attracted the interest of two electrical manufacturers that acquired South African industrial control manufacturer. Along with successfully hosting international soccer's 2010 World Cup, South Africa was recently added to the group of BRIC nations (Brazil, Russia, India and China) in a Goldman Sachs report as an emerging nation with a fast-growing economy. With the addition of South Africa, this group is now known by the “BRICS” acronym.

Last month Eaton Corp., Cleveland, announced plans to acquire ACTOM (Pty) Ltd.'s low-voltage electrical business in South Africa, and Rockwell Automation, Milwaukee, Wis., agreed to buy Hiprom, a process control and automation systems integrator headquartered in Johannesburg, South Africa.

ACTOM's low-voltage business is a manufacturer and supplier of motor control components, engineered electrical distribution systems and uninterruptible power supply systems. Headquartered in Johannesburg, ACTOM's low-voltage business had sales of $58 million during the last twelve months. The business has 480 employees and two manufacturing facilities in South Africa.

“The acquisition of ACTOM's low-voltage business establishes a direct presence for Eaton in the attractive South African market and serves as a platform for growth in the region,” said Frank Campbell, president of Eaton's Europe, Middle East and Africa Region for the Electrical Sector. “The combination of Eaton's business with ACTOM's low-voltage business will offer a broader set of power distribution and power quality solutions that enable our customers to more effectively grow and compete in their markets.”

The Hiprom acquisition accelerates Rockwell's growth in the Sub-Saharan region of Africa and further expands its work in the global mining and mineral processing market, said Hedwig Maes, president of Rockwell Automation's Europe, Middle East, and Africa region, in a Rockwell release.

Hiprom's management and its 100-person workforce will continue under Rockwell's Systems & Solutions business unit, and will gain direct access to Rockwell's products and systems. The acquisition is expected to close during the first calendar quarter of 2011, subject to the approval of regulatory authorities in South Africa.