GenNx360 Capital buys West Chester-based drilling rig builder Schramm

Posted: July 04, 2012

GenNx360 Capital Partners, a New York industrial buyout firm started by former General Electric Equipment Services boss Arthur H. Harper and his partners — mostly African American engineers and GE veterans — says it has joined with deep-drilling rig builder Schramm Inc.'s president Edward Breiner and other managers to buy the century-old West Chester firm, in hopes of boosting sales to its multinational clients, and cutting costs.

GenNx360 won't say what it's paying the previous owners, including successors of the firm's founders, who sold because the company needed more expansion capital than they could easily raise, according to people familiar with the deal. Schramm employs around 240.

Schramm was suddenly famous beyond the energy business in 2010, when two of its drills helped find and rescue 33 trapped miners in Chile. The buyer was more interested in how Schramm, which makes drills designed to go up to three miles underground, has boosted sales with the spread of deep natural gas drilling in Pennsylvania, oil drilling in North Dakota, and other energy booms around the world, thanks to hydraulic fracturing and other deep-extraction methods.

"GenNx360's resources, Schramm's business model, and the Company's talented management team will create a powerful combination," said Drew Shea, managing partner at GenNx360, in a statement announcing the deal.

A team of lawyers headed by James Lebovitz from Philadelphia's Dechert LLP represented Schramm.

Google's men

Five weeks after Google Inc. took over Motorola Mobility as part of its drive to better compete with Apple Inc.'s smartphones and portable telecom systems, Google last week put two veteran cable TV engineering managers in charge of its Motorola Home unit and introduced them to staff at the group's Horsham headquarters.

Marwan Fawaz will head Motorola Home and Matt Bell will serve as senior vice president for strategy and technology, replacing veteran bosses Dan Moloney and Geoff Roman, who, Motorola says, decided to leave.

Fawaz, an engineer who Motorola calls "a top strategist in developing innovative solutions to drive tomorrow's [Internet Protocol] transformation," was chief technology officer at cable operators Charter Communications, of Atlanta, and the former Adelphia Communications, of Coudersport, Pa.

The company says Fawaz and Bell will commute from their Colorado homes to Horsham, also visiting the company's software center in Sunnyvale, Calif., manufacturing plants in Massachusetts, Britain, China, Russia, Singapore and other countries, and calling on customers.

Moloney joined Motorola Home predecessor General Instrument in the early 1980s. The Horsham plant has made cable set-top boxes for Philadelphia-based Comcast Corp., and has been developing, for Comcast and others, what the company calls advanced systems for future TV systems and the "connected home," including software and new IP platforms, systems integration, video-gateway technology, and multi-screen video.

The Horsham facility, built in 1995 to house 1,100 engineers, skilled production workers, administrative and sales people with $10 million in state aid, remains headquarters for the business.

Google isn't talking in detail about its plans. Light Reading Cable editor Jeff Baumgartner, noting speculation that Google cares more for Motorola's phone patents than its cable equipment business, named a string of possible buyers for Motorola Home: Ed Breen, the New Hope resident who was Moloney's boss when he ran Motorola Home predecessor General Instrument before his current job running Tyco International; and TV equipment manufacturers CommScope, Juniper Networks, Pace P.L.C. and Huawei Technologies.

Google declined to comment "on rumors and speculation." Adds spokeswoman Jeanne Russo: "Motorola Home has a vibrant business with a strong product portfolio, leadership team, and customer relationships. We will continue to operate as the preferred and innovative partner to cable operators and service providers worldwide."

Contact columnist Joseph N. DiStefano at 215-854-5194, JoeD@phillynews.com, or @PhillyJoeD on Twitter.

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