Exclusive: Lockheed, Textron final suitors for Sikorsky Aircraft - sources

Wed Jul 8, 2015 6:17pm EDT
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By Andrea Shalal and Mike Stone

WASHINGTON/NEW YORK (Reuters) - Lockheed Martin Corp (LMT.N: Quote) and Textron Inc (TXT.N: Quote) have emerged as final contenders to buy United Technologies Corp's (UTX.N: Quote) Sikorsky Aircraft business, which could be valued at around $8 billion, according to people familiar with the matter.

UTC is weighing offers from the two companies and may come to a decision by the end of the month, one of the people said.

The company could still decide against an outright sale and instead spin off Sikorsky to shareholders in a tax-free deal, the people added, asking not to be named because the matter is not public.

Last month, UTC announced it was exiting the helicopter business and would either sell or spin off Sikorsky, which has come under pressure in the commercial market, where lower energy prices have slashed demand from the oil and gas sector.

Textron, which has a market capitalization of about $12 billion and is up against a much larger suitor, has reached out to private equity firms to put together a cash bid for Sikorsky, the people said. Lockheed Martin has a market value of about $60 billion.

Textron, maker of Bell helicopters and Cessna aircraft, had initially proposed a Reverse Morris Trust (RMT) merger between Sikorsky and Textron, a transaction that allows a parent company to sell its subsidiary while avoiding a hefty tax bill, Reuters previously reported.

UTC made clear it was not interested in acquiring a stake in Textron as part of the more complex transaction, the sources said. People familiar with the process had said that arrangement would have had substantial tax savings.

Textron then reached out private equity firms for help to make a cash offer, the sources said.   Continued...

The new Sikorsky Aircraft S-97 RAIDER helicopter, is seen during its unveiling ceremony at Sikorsky Aircraft in Jupiter, Florida October 2, 2014. REUTERS/Andrew Innerarity