United Tech looks for a big deal after rebuffing Honeywell

Thu Mar 10, 2016 6:33pm EST
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By Alwyn Scott

NEW YORK (Reuters) - United Technologies Corp (UTX.N: Quote), maker of jet engines, aircraft components and building systems, said it is open to doing a large acquisition despite rejecting a merger proposed by Honeywell International Inc (HON.N: Quote).

"I wouldn't be afraid to do a big deal," Chief Executive Gregory Hayes said at an investor meeting on Thursday. But "it's got to be something that's actionable ... and the regulatory hurdles have to be manageable."

Hayes said there was appetite in UTC's commercial businesses, including elevators, fire and security systems, and possibly its aerospace systems business, to make a sizable acquisition.

UTC recently scotched an approach by Honeywell because the deal faced "very real" obstacles from regulators and customers, Hayes said.

Without an acquisition, the company is poised for "huge growth" based in part on urbanization and rising disposable incomes in the developing world, he said.

"We don't need M&A for growth," Hayes said, noting the company was not looking to increase debt for a short-term stock gain.

Asked if the company was concerned about pressure from activist investors following the Honeywell approach, Hayes pointed to two board appointments the company made in December: T. Rowe Price Group Inc Chairman Brian Rogers and Frederic Reynolds, former Chief Financial Officer of CBS.

"We brought these guys on because we needed the voice of the investor on the board," Hayes said.   Continued...

The ticker symbol for United Technologies is displayed at the post where it is traded on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) February 23, 2016. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid