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Asea AB, an industrial jewel of Sweden, was created in 1883. Asea’s business was broadly defined as "the generation and application of electric power". The company manufactured such diverse items as steam turbines for power plants and high-speed electric locomotives for passenger railroads. In 1986, Asea extended the firm’s engineering and manufacturing operations beyond Sweden in order to gain economies of scale - both in manufacturing and in raising capital.
The big step forward had been the acquisition in Finland of Strömberg AB with its 7,000 employees, which was followed in late 1987 by the acquisition of 63 percent of EB Corporation in Norway. By 1987, Asea was radically altered from a Swedish-centered company to a pan-Nordic electrical multinational. But the company continued to look even beyond the Nordic countries. In 1987 Asea and Brown Boveri were of roughly equivalent size in many respects (annual sales, net worth, number of employees) and had adopted similar lines of decentralized command. The companies also complemented each other in their geographical concentrations and in management strengths.
This marriage of equals in 1988, Asea and Brown Boveri into ABB, allowed the new company to stay at the forefront of technology. Utilizing production plants in many countries, the merged group made the most of the advantages of international specialization and became the world's leading supplier in the electric power industry.