After scratching plans to buy the Los Angeles Times and other Tribune Co. newspapers, billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch have agreed to buy Molex Inc., a maker of electronic connectors used by several companies, including Apple Inc.
The $7.2-billion acquisition helps the Koch brothers diversify from their traditional holdings in energy, chemicals and paper.
Under the deal, Koch Industries will pay a 42% premium, on average, for shares of the Lisle, Ill., company.
Molex will become a standalone unit of Koch Industries, which owns brands such as Brawny paper towels, Dixie Cups and Lycra, Reuters reported.
UBS analysts expressed surprise at both the healthy valuation of the deal and the buyer.
"The precise motivation of the acquisition is unclear to us at this juncture," Amitabh Passi and James Hillier said in a note.
The proposed acquisition comes two weeks after Koch Industries confirmed it was no longer interested in acquiring the Tribune newspapers, which it said were “not economically viable.”
“Koch continues to have an interest in the media business, and we're exploring a broad range of opportunities where we think we can add value,” Koch spokeswoman Melissa Cohlmia said in an Aug. 22 statement.
Follow Stuart Pfeifer on Twitter