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When Didier Pineau-Valencienne took charge in 1981, he began rationalizing the company by divesting non-strategic or unprofitable businesses. Negotiations were undertaken with the French government to find solutions for the segments in decline, such as steelmaking and shipbuilding, which led to serious crises, notably at Creusot-Loire.

A new start

After consolidating its financial base by bringing in new shareholders and simplifying its organizational structure, Schneider began to redeploy in the late 1980s. Didier Pineau-Valencienne brought Merlin Gerin firmly into the group in 1986 and then launched an ambitious acquisitions strategy, capped by the integration of Telemecanique (1988) and Square D (1991). The strategic refocusing on electricity was completed in 1996, with the divestment of Spie Batignolles. In just ten years, a company that looked headed for bankruptcy transformed itself into a world class manufacturer of equipment for electrical distribution, automation and control.