The Washington Post Co. buys control systems supplier Forney

The Washington Post Co. is taking a tiny step toward greater diversification with the acquisition of Forney Corp., a global supplier of products and systems that control and monitor combustion processes in electric utilities and industrial applications.

Donald E. Graham, chairman of the board of The Washington Post Co., said in a statement released Thursday that “Forney is a small acquisition that fits with our decentralized operating philosophy.” He added that it was part of The Post’s “ongoing strategy of investing in companies with demonstrated earnings potential and strong management teams attracted to our long-term investment horizon.”

Founded in 1927 by R.H. Forney, the company has manufactured oil and gas burners for electric utilities. In 1983, the ­company expanded abroad by selling burner-management systems and other products to fossil-fuel-fired plants in China. The company is a subsidiary of United Technologies Corp.

The Post said that Forney’s general manager, Tom Demrick, will continue to run the business. The acquisition is expected to be completed next month.

“We are a diverse group of businesses sharing common goals and values but each with its own identity and workplace culture, and with management responsible for its operations,” Graham said.

The Post did not disclose the price of the deal, but a person familiar with the purchase said it was smaller than last year’s acquisition of a majority stake in Celtic Healthcare, which Graham said last December has revenue equal to “roughly” 1 percent of that of the overall company.

The Post’s biggest business is its Kaplan education subsidiary. It also owns half a dozen broadcast television stations, a cable company, the online magazine Slate and its flagship newspaper, The Washington Post.

Steven Mufson covers energy and other financial news.
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