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Report: GKN still interested in Spirit’s Okla. plants

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2014, at 11:10 a.m.
  • Updated Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2014, at 6:20 p.m.

British-based GKN remains interested in Spirit AeroSystems’ Oklahoma facilities that are up for sale, according to a Bloomberg report Tuesday.

“We are always looking for acquisitions,” GKN CEO Nigel Stein said, according to Bloomberg. “It would be entirely logical to assume that GKN had an interest.”

Spirit AeroSystems said last year that it is looking for a buyer for its Tulsa and McAlester, Okla., facilities.

Triumph Group has also said that it is interested in part of the Oklahoma operations.

GKN is a parts supplier to Boeing and Airbus.

In December, the Daily Telegraph reported that GKN was considering bidding on Spirit’s Oklahoma sites.

“The deal would fit with GKN’s strategy of targeting expansion in the aerospace sector, although any acquisitions will have to meet strict cost criteria,” the Daily Telegraph said at the time.

Spirit’s Tulsa plant builds the wings for the Gulfstream planes and wing components for Boeing 737, 747, 777 and 787 commercial airliners.

The 1.9 million-square-foot facility in Tulsa is next to the Tulsa International Airport. Spirit’s 135,000-square-foot plant in McAlester, 90 miles from Tulsa, builds parts and provides subassemblies.

Spirit’s Tulsa plant began in 1962 as North American Aviation. In 1967, it merged with Rockwell Standard Corp., becoming Rockwell International.

Boeing bought the operation from Rockwell in 1996.

The Oklahoma operations were included in the 2005 transaction when Boeing sold its Wichita commercial aviation operations to Onex Corp., which became Spirit.

Spirit is continuing to work with potential buyers on a sale, Spirit CEO Larry Lawson said earlier this month. However, it will keep the operations if things don’t work out with a buyer, he said.

“It’s a really good business, especially in this long cycle of the commercial aviation business,” Lawson said at the time. “If things don’t work out, we’ll be the proud owners.”

The rationale around shedding the Oklahoma facilities appears intact, Steven Cahall, an aviation analyst with RBC Capital Markets, said in an analyst report to investors earlier this month.

The Tulsa facility is more of a “build-to-print” operation and not one of Spirit’s “traditional manufacturing power lane,” Cahall wrote.

Lawson’s comment that Spirit could keep the facility could mean a number of things, he wrote, including a change of thinking or that potential buyers aren’t offering what Spirit thinks it’s worth.

Reach Molly McMillin at 316-269-6708 or mmcmillin@wichitaeagle.com. Follow her on Twitter: @mmcmillin.

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