Aviation

Spirit AeroSystems buys European supplier for $650M, adding F-35 fighter program

Spirit AeroSystems, based in Wichita, is the state’s largest private employer.
Spirit AeroSystems, based in Wichita, is the state’s largest private employer. File photo

Spirit Aerosystems' $650 million purchase of a European supplier could strengthen the Airbus work of the state's largest private employer while adding a new defense program.

By buying the parent company of Asco Industries, Spirit adds the Belgium-based aerospace components company's work on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and Airbus A320 and A350 programs, among others.

The acquisition of Asco's parent company, S.R.I.F. N.V., was announced in a Wednesday press release from Spirit. The agreement includes $650 million in cash, which will likely be financed through new debt.

Asco anticipates about $400 million in revenue this year, the release said.

Asco is a supplier of high lift wing structures, mechanical assemblies and major functional components, the release said. It employs about 1,400 people in Stillwater, Okla.; Vancouver, Canada; Gedern, Germany; and Zaventem, Belgium.

The deal is expected to close in the second half of 2018, pending regulatory approval and closing conditions.

Spirit's chief executive, Tom Gentile, said in a November conference call that the company was evaluating potential merger and acquisition deals. Any deal had to include a company that had contracts with Airbus or defense contractors, he said at the time.

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