UTC: Collins Merger Still on Track for China OK

 - November 14, 2018, 12:04 PM

United Technologies Corp. (UTC) continues to anticipate Chinese approval for its $30 billion merger with Rockwell Collins in the near term, but in the interim teams between the two companies are collaborating on areas where they can plan for alignment, a key UTC executive told investors last week.

Speaking during the Baird’s Global Industrial Conference late last week, UTC executive v-p and CFO Akhil Johri reiterated that approval will come soon and agreed that he did not see roadblocks on that end. This followed remarks by UTC chairman Greg Hayes, who told investors last month during the company's third-quarter earnings release that the later-than-anticipated U.S. approvals “pushed out Chinese approval” but that “we don’t see any drama here. We expect this to happen soon.”

While acknowledging heightened trade tensions between the U.S. and China, Hayes does not believe that is affecting Chinese approval on the UTC/Rockwell Collins deal. He added that the companies had agreed to a “remedies package” with Chinese regulators in August and that approval had been pending U.S. clearance. The Chinese government has not sought any further actions, he added.

Meanwhile, however, Johri said the companies have had “a lot of time to work on synergies” and still feel pretty confident that they will be able to generate $500 million” from those actions. Engineering teams from both companies are among the most enthusiastic about the tie-up, Johri said, noting he gets many calls from these teams asking when the acquisition will close and they can begin working together.

Once the acquisition is closed, he said, the company will lay out a plan on how it will move forward with its overall portfolio. Executives have acknowledged it was reviewing multiple possible scenarios for the future of that portfolio and those plans would be revealed later this year.

Discussions have centered on a possible split of UTC or sales of certain assets. However, analysts believe that any future changes would keep the aerospace units largely intact.