Eaton Corp.'s blockbuster move to acquire Cooper Industries for $11.8 billion took the industry by surprise last month, but the tight fit between the companies, with very little overlap in product lines, shows the logic of the deal.

In acquiring Cooper, which is incorporated in Ireland but is run from Houston, Cleveland-based Eaton will significantly increase the capabilities and geographic breadth of its power management portfolio and its electrical business overall. Cooper's experience in international markets and its strong position in the oil and gas business through its Crouse-Hinds brand are key benefits for Eaton.

Eaton also will gain some tax advantages by incorporating the new combined company, called Eaton Global Corporation Plc, in Ireland, though sources say Eaton's top management will continue directing the business from Eaton's new headquarters campus in Beachwood, Ohio, outside Cleveland, and to oversee the U.S. electrical market from its Pittsburgh offices.

The overlap between the companies' electrical product offerings is actually pretty modest for two such large electrical manufacturers. Cooper has seven operating divisions — B-Line, Bussmann, Crouse-Hinds, Lighting, Safety, Power Systems and Wiring Devices — that produce electrical protection, power transmission and distribution, lighting and wiring components. Within these groups are dozens of marquee brands, including CEAG explosion-proof electrical equipment, Halo and Metalux lighting fixtures and Kyle and McGraw-Edison power systems products.

Eaton integrated the branding of its various electrical acquisitions several years ago under the Eaton Electrical brand. Its electrical core rests on what was once Cutler-Hammer and parts of the old Westinghouse business, as well as E.A. Pederson switchgear, Klockner-Moeller industrial controls and many others. Its electrical products include circuit breakers, switchgear, UPS systems, power distribution units, panelboards, load centers, motor controls, meters, sensors, relays and inverters.