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Schneider in Deal Talks With US Software Maker Bentley

(Bloomberg) -- Schneider Electric SE is in talks about a potential deal with engineering software maker Bentley Systems Inc., potentially paving the way for one of the biggest takeovers of a US company by a French business.

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The discussions are part of Schneider Electric’s strategy to build up its capabilities in industrial technology, and are at an early stage, it said Friday. Bentley acknowledged Schneider’s statement separately without commenting further.

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Bentley Systems was little changed at $52.13 per share at 12:06 p.m. in US trading, giving it a market value of $17 billion. The stock had risen 3.9% on Thursday when Reuters first reported that the company is exploring options, including a sale, citing people people familiar with the matter. Schneider Electric fell 3.2% to €208.40 in Paris.

Based in Exton, Pennsylvania, Bentley makes software for engineering and construction projects — from bridges and airports to utilities and mines. Schneider, one of France’s oldest and biggest industrial companies, has evolved from primarily a maker of electrical gear to a provider of software and equipment for buildings, data centers and factories.

Schneider’s market value has swelled to a record of more than €120 billion ($128 billion) after its share price tripled in five years — potentially providing it more power for a deal.

Including net debt, Bentley Systems is valued at about $18.5 billion. At that price, an acquisition by Schneider Electric would be one of the biggest US deals ever by a French corporation, surpassing LVMH’s $17.4 billion purchase of jeweler Tiffany & Co. in 2021, but trailing Sanofi’s $19.1 billion deal for drugmaker Genzyme Corp. in 2011.

Schneider Electric previously acquired UK industrial software company Aveva Group Plc in two stages, purchasing almost 60% in 2018 in a deal valued at £1.7 billion and acquiring the rest in 2023 for £3.9 billion.

--With assistance from Phil Serafino.

(Updates share prices in third paragraph)

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