United Technologies Corp. said Friday it has gained final approval from Chinese regulators for its $30 billion purchase of Rockwell Collins Inc.
The approval from China’s State Administration for Market Regulation represents the final step toward completing a deal announced in September 2017.
UTC said in a brief statement that with the Chinese approval secured, it projects the deal “to close within three business days.”
Rockwell has about 1,500 employees at the Winston-Salem operational hub that it acquired in April 2017 from B/E Aerospace Inc. It has confirmed plans to eliminate about 100 jobs as part of shifting certain production to facilities in the Philippines.
Gregory Hayes, UTC”s chairman and chief executive, said in May that the companies planned to act quickly on informing employees who will not be retained during the integration process.
The deal has drawn mixed reactions from analysts and investors, including several who say UTC is overpaying for Rockwell.
The speculation is now likely to shift toward how quickly could UTC begin the process of determining which business segments, if any, that it will divest post-Rockwell integration.
The company faces significant pressure from at least two activist shareholder groups, including one led by billionaire hedge-fund activist Bill Ackman, to consider splitting itself into three to four parts.
UTC has four main operating segments: Climate, Controls and Security; Pratt & Whitney aviation equipment; UTC Aerospace Systems; and Otis elevators. Rockwell will integrate into what will become Collins Aerospace.
Hayes has hinted at such an eventual possibility.
“Once we have completed the integration of Rockwell Collins and made progress toward reducing leverage back to historical levels, we will have an opportunity to explore a full range of strategic options for UTC,” Hayes told analysts in October.
The deal gained conditional U.S. Justice Department approval Oct. 2. It initially was projected for an early July closing. The transaction required the approval of 17 international regulatory agencies. UTC is taking on $7 billion in Rockwell debt as part of the deal.
As part of gaining regulatory approvals, the companies agreed to sell off two Rockwell properties to resolve the Justice Department’s antitrust concerns: its pneumatic ice protection systems business; and its trimmable horizontal stabilizer actuators.
Rockwell announced Sept. 18 it was selling the actuator business to Parisian manufacturer Safran SA. The Rockwell-Safran deal is projected to close in the first half of 2019.
The requirements were disclosed as part of a lawsuit filed Oct. 1 by the department’s Antitrust Division in federal court for the District of Columbia. The lawsuit was filed with the purpose of putting the deal on hold if the divestitures are not completed.
The department said in a statement “that without the divestitures, the proposed acquisition would lessen competition substantially in the market for ice protection systems, by combining two of the world’s three suppliers of pneumatic ice protection systems, and in the market for (the actuators), by combining two of the world’s leading producers of (the actuators).”
“(The) remedy ensures that customers continue to benefit from competition in the supply of these two aircraft components that are critical to safety,” said Makan Delrahim, an assistant attorney general for the antitrust division. “The remedy allows the divestiture buyers to compete vigorously to provide high-quality systems and service to customers.”
At the conclusion of a 60-day public comment period, the federal court “may enter the final judgment upon finding it is in the public interest.”
Bloomberg News reported on March 19 that Hayes said he plans to retire upon the full integration of Rockwell, which is projected to take three to five years.
Rockwell, based in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and UTC Aerospace Systems, based in Charlotte, would be integrated to create Collins Aerospace Systems.
Rockwell’s top executive, Kelly Ortberg, will serve as Collins Aerospace’s chief executive. Ortberg qualifies for a change-in-control package worth $30 million.
On Feb. 23, the companies said Collins Aerospace would keep its aircraft-interiors operations in Winston-Salem.
Collins Aerospace would have a small executive leadership office in Palm Beach County, Fla., at an existing UTC site.
The other business units and their main sites would be aerostructures in Chula Vista, Calif.; avionics in Cedar Rapids; mechanical systems in Charlotte; mission systems in Cedar Rapids; and power and controls in Windsor Locks, Conn.
On May 23, UTC said it projects adding 35,000 U.S. jobs as part of a five-year expansion initiative, along with spending more than $6 billion on capital investments and $9 billion on research and development.
Although the majority of the jobs would go to operations in Connecticut, Florida and Georgia, there are plans to expand its North Carolina workforce by about 1,500 to 4,000 employees.