UTC to Buy Rockwell in $30B Aerospace Merger

Like other aerospace suppliers, United Technologies is seeking to cut costs and enhance negotiating power in the face of pricing pressure from cust...
Matthew HellerSeptember 5, 2017

United Technologies (UTC) has agreed to acquire Rockwell Collins for $30 billion in a mega-merger of aerospace suppliers aimed at achieving economies of scale to reduce costs.

The deal — the largest in the aerospace industry in decades — is expected to create a company with $67 to $68 billion in sales, combining United Tech’s strength in critical aircraft components such as landing gear, wheels, brakes, and sensors with Rockwell’s expertise in the electronic systems, or avionics, used in planes.

At $140 for each share of Rockwell stock, UTC will pay a 17.6% premium to the price before news of merger talks surfaced on Aug. 4.

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“When you’re buying beachfront property … I think it’s a pretty good deal,” UTC Chief Executive Greg Hayes told CNBC.

Aerospace suppliers have been under pressure from aircraft manufacturers to make price concessions. “As production now begins to accelerate, suppliers are bulking up — both to win a wider range of higher margin work on each aircraft, and also to achieve greater negotiating power in the face of pricing pressure,” The Financial Times said.

UTC’s takeover of Rockwell follows Safran’s acquisition of French seat-maker Zodiac and Rockwell’s own purchase of B/E.

United Tech estimates it will generate more than $500 million in cost savings by year four of the deal. “Together, Rockwell Collins and UTC Aerospace Systems will enhance customer value in a rapidly evolving aerospace industry by making aircraft more intelligent and more connected,” Hayes said in a news release.

He also said UTC “will be able to offer a huge suite of systems across the airframe. Imagine the ability to combine systems architectures to reduce costs and weight for airlines.”

However, one key customer — Boeing — voiced objections to the deal, saying it was “skeptical that it would be in the best interest of — or add value to — our customers and industry.” And in trading on Tuesday, UTC shares fell 5.7% to $111.21.

The stock decline “underlines the need for elusive revenue benefits or a lucrative breakup to prove the deal’s potential,” Reuters said.