(Illustration by Guy Lawrence for ENR)

One of the world’s oldest heavy-equipment manufacturers has inked a $225-million deal with another historic firm to acquire its line of surface-drilling machinery.

Pending regulatory approval, the deal would transfer ownership of Ingersoll-Rand Drilling Solutions, Garland, Texas, to Atlas Copco AB, Stockholm, Sweden. Officials hope to complete the cash deal by mid-year. The sale would help IR hone its security, industrial, road-building and compact equipment lines, says IR Chairman, President and CEO Herbert L. Henkel.

Founded in 1873 as a locomotive engine and equipment supplier, Atlas Copco is expanding its global reach at a fast pace. Since the early 1980s, it has manufactured in China, where demand now is high. In June 2002, it bought the German-made line of Krupp hydraulic hammers. Today, it has 26,000 employees and $6.6 billion in annual revenue from making power tools and compressors and operating worldwide rental outlets under Prime and Rental Service Corp. brands.

Atlas Copco assures us that it is "not going to turn everything upside down," says Robert Fassl, president of newly formed Atlas Copco Drilling Solutions, which will keep its base in Garland. One main objective is to improve after-market support for the rock-drilling line, which formed the roots of IR in 1871.