Strengthening its position in the southern United States, Rexel S.A., the world's largest electrical distributor, has acquired Braid Electric Co., Nashville, Tenn.

Braid Electric is the nation's 141st largest electrical distributor, according to Electrical Wholesaling's 2004 Top 200 listing. The company, which had 2003 sales of $28.3 million, has Kentucky branches in Bowling Green and Danville; and Tennessee branches in Clarksville, Columbia, Cookville, Murfreesboro, Nashville and Shelbyville.

Ben Gambill, Braid Electric's president, and Tom Gambill, company vice president, will remain with Braid Electric, now a division of Rexel, as regional managers.

The acquisition of Braid Electric came after Rexel announced in October that it planned to buy five companies in Central Europe and Australia. In the Czech Republic, Rexel acquired Bestel and Elvo. In Asia-Pacific, Rexel agreed to buy the Australian electrical distributors Hitech, A-P Controls and Robtec. The company said the acquisitions strengthen its commercial position in two of its fastest-growing markets.

News of the acquisitions came just weeks after reports surfaced that Rexel's Paris-based parent, French retailer Pinault-Printemps-Redoute SA (PPR), was getting closer to selling Rexel.