Rockwell Collins completes B/E Aerospace deal

The $8.6 billion deal adds cabin interiors to the company's portfolio

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Rockwell Collins officially added 10,000 employees under its name Thursday having finished the acquisition of B/E Aerospace, a Florida-based maker of airplane interiors.

Rockwell CEO Kelly Ortberg said the inclusion of B/E’s interior products will give the company diversity to weather ups and downs in the aviation industry.

Cedar Rapids-based Rockwell mainly manufactures avionics technology used in cockpits and flight decks for commercial and defense aircraft. Wellington, Fla.-headquartred B/E Aerospace manufactures seating, lighting, galleys and other interior products for commercial and business aircraft.

“Just the scale and the opportunity is going to allow us to grow faster,” he said in a phone interview with The Gazette while in Winston-Salem, N.C., B/E’s largest base of employees.

The combination of the two companies is not expected to affect employees in Cedar Rapids, Ortberg said.

“We are not closing facilities in other locations and bringing work into Cedar Rapids, but likewise we are not moving work from Cedar Rapids into any of the B/E locations,” Ortberg said.

Some positions involved with the administration of the two public companies may be cut, he said.

“Those will go through workforce reductions as we eliminate those positions. People understand that and they’ll be taken care of as part of that integration plan,” Ortberg said.

Rockwell is now expected to have more than $8 billion in annual revenue.

With the purchase, Rockwell will try to sell more aircraft seats and interiors directly to plane makers, rather than airlines, Ortberg told Reuters Thursday.

“This is an area where I think we can do more standard equipment with the OEMs,” he said, referring to plane makers such as Boeing and Airbus.

“I think we can do more with Boeing as they look at what part of the interiors they want to standardize,” he added.

The company first announced the acquisition last October. A month later, activist fund Starboard Value pressured Rockwell to drop the bid and consider selling itself instead.

Shareholders approved the deal in March, however, and regulators with the European Union signing off earlier this month.

B/E Aerospace rebranded immediately Thursday as Rockwell Collins. Its president and CEO, Werner Lieberherr, became executive vice president and chief operating officer for a new interior systems division within Rockwell.

The deal, valued at $8.6 billion with debt, is the largest in Rockwell’s history. It brings together Rockwell’s 20,000 global employees with 10,000 from B/E Aerospace.

Cedar Rapids, with about 8,000 people, remains the largest concentration of employees for Rockwell, a spokesman said in an email. The second biggest is now Batangas, a province in the Philippines, with about 1,900 employees.

In addition to Cedar Rapids, Rockwell Collins has another 1,350 employees in Eastern Iowa.

l Comments: (319) 398-8366; matthew.patane@thegazette.com

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