Sources Say Sikorsky Sale Down to Two Bidders: Lockheed and Textron

Sikorsky Skycrane Carrying House Vist.Today Chester County Business News

Sources close to the Sikorsky sale have said that the field has narrowed from four companies to just two. That could mean big changes for the helicopter manufacturer with an assembly plant in Coatesville.

United Technologies Corporation confirmed in June their plan to sell or spin-off their helicopter business.

Igor Sikorsky single-handedly pioneered the mass production of helicopters. Read about their history here.

Boeing, which had expressed interest in a potential deal, is no longer active in the sale process, and Airbus, the world’s largest civil helicopter maker has said it is keeping an eye on the Sikorsky sales process, but is not in the race to acquire it, according to the latest information.

Even though drones get much of the press these days, helicopters are still an essential part of many military operations and are gaining popularity as a relatively comfortable and efficient method of civil transportation. Sikorsky’s military and civil designs, including the presidential helicopter, Marine One, make it a prime acquisition worth as much as $8 billion.

Analysts have focused on Textron as the most likely buyer, given its interest in beefing up its existing Bell Helicopter business. But industry executives said there could be antitrust questions on the commercial side which could prevent a deal, given that both companies make helicopters in similar market segments.

Several weeks ago, Sikorsky’s parent company United Technologies Corp confirmed they were looking to sell or spin-off Sikorsky.

For Lockheed, Sikorsky is seen as a “signature company” and acquiring Sikorsky would be the first major acquisition for Chief Executive Marillyn Hewson, who has helped nearly double the company’s share price since taking over as CEO in January 2013.

The acquisition could help Lockheed produce strong revenues in the medium term, when production of the F-35 fighter jet program begins to taper off, but there are doubts on whether Lockheed wants to get in the business of actually manufacturing helicopters. It already has a successful business arm producing essential helicopter components.

The elephant in the room on this deal process is whether or not UTC will decide to spin off the company, as this would give it a significant tax break and avoid any regulatory scrutiny. Whatever the outcome, Sikorsky’s outlook still looks strong.

Find more VISTA Today Sikorsky coverage here.

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