Aviation

Rockwell to expand its aircraft footprint through acquisition

Kelly Ortberg, chief executive officer of Rockwell Collins Inc., at the company’s production facility in in Manchester, Iowa, on Aug. 31, 2016.
Kelly Ortberg, chief executive officer of Rockwell Collins Inc., at the company’s production facility in in Manchester, Iowa, on Aug. 31, 2016. Bloomberg

A supplier of avionics to some Wichita-built business jets and turboprops is about to get much bigger in an $8.3 billion deal announced Sunday.

Rockwell Collins – whose avionics can be found in some Bombardier and Cessna Citation business jets as well as Beechcraft King Airs – has entered a definitive agreement to acquire B/E Aerospace, whose products can be found throughout the passenger cabins of Boeing and Airbus jetliners.

Rockwell and B/E also have local operations. Rockwell, at 2051 S. Airport Road, operates a service center that employs 155 people and works on Rockwell systems used in business jets and by regional airlines, a company spokeswoman said.

B/E Aerospace operates an engineering center at 8110 E. 32nd St. North. Company officials could not be reached Monday for more details on the center that was opened in 2013 and that at one time employed 60 people.

The deal includes $6.4 billion in cash and stock and the assumption of $1.9 billion in net debt, Cedar Rapids, Iowa-based Rockwell said in a news release.

It also would expand Rockwell’s markets and, Rockwell officials hope, ease the company’s exposure to general aviation and business jet manufacturers’ production rate cycles.

Florida-based B/E Aerospace’s products include aircraft seating, food and beverage preparation and storage equipment, lighting and oxygen systems, and modular galley and lavatory systems for commercial airliners and business jets.

“B/E Aerospace has a leading position in nearly all the segments it serves and a highly visible, long-cycle backlog,” Rockwell CEO Kelly Ortberg said in the release. “Beyond new aircraft deliveries, its $12 billion installed base provides a strong flow of aftermarket retrofit opportunities that balances our current cyclical exposure to OEM production rates.”

Rockwell expects the acquisition would result in a company with nearly 30,000 employees and $8.1 billion in annual revenue, based on information as of Sept. 30.

The deal is expected to be completed in spring 2017.

Jerry Siebenmark: 316-268-6576, @jsiebenmark

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