ROCKWELL COLLINS ACQUISITION

Collins Aerospace HQ decision expected by March

No hints on where it might land

The Rockwell Collins headquarters in Cedar Rapids is shown on Tuesday, Sept. 5, 2017. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)
The Rockwell Collins headquarters in Cedar Rapids is shown on Tuesday, Sept. 5, 2017. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)

Rockwell Collins and United Technologies Corp. likely will decide by the end of March where to base Rockwell’s corporate successor.

Farmington, Conn.-based UTC announced in September it plans to acquire Rockwell for $30 billion, including debt. Under the deal, Rockwell would combine with a UTC division, UTC Aerospace Systems, and form Collins Aerospace Systems.

In a question-and-answer post with employees on its intranet, Rockwell said it expects the headquarters location for Collins Aerospace will be determined by the end of the second quarter of its 2018 fiscal year. Rockwell’s fiscal year runs from Oct. 1 through Sept. 30, meaning its second quarter goes from January through March.

“You may have heard that this would be announced before the end of this calendar year, but we want to make sure we carefully consider all aspects,” the Rockwell Q&A reads.

The Q&A was made public when it was filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission Friday.

The companies have shared little about where the executive offices of Collins Aerospace might land or how many people the decision directly affects. They estimate the acquisition would result in $500 million of “cost synergies.”

Job cuts, Rockwell has said, are mainly expected to hit corporate-level employees.

A spokeswoman for UTC did not answer questions about the headquarters decision, except to say one had not been made.

City officials have said Rockwell and UTC have not asked them to bid on the headquarters location or sought incentives.

“There has still been no request for financial assistance, and as we’ve previously stated, the decision on the division HQ is not being looked at as a ‘competitive’ process between communities, but rather what makes most sense operationally for the organization,” Cedar Rapids Economic Development Manager Jasmine Almoayed said in an email Monday.

Almoayed added the March determination date matches what Rockwell has told the city.

City staff have met with Rockwell Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and President Kelly Ortberg to discuss the acquisition, but have held off on discussions with UTC. A meeting with Cedar Rapids’ new mayor is planned after Jan. 1, Almoayed said.

During an editorial board with The Gazette in November, city and economic development leaders acknowledged corporate headquarters are important for Cedar Rapids as they can offer easy access to executives who can make decisions in times of need, such as a flood.

Even so, they argued that company employees, not just executives, are vital for corporate engagement with the city.

“Yes, (local headquarters) are important, but it’s not the be-all and end-all,” Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance Executive Director Doug Neumann said at the time. “It doesn’t mean you’re not a good company if you don’t have a local headquarters here.”

A call to a spokeswoman for the Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance was not returned.

Rockwell Collins is based in Cedar Rapids and is the city’s largest employer. It has about 30,000 employees globally. UTC Aerospace Systems has about 40,000 employees globally and is based in Charlotte, N.C.

Decisions on the organizational structure of Collins Aerospace are also expected by March.

UTC’s acquisition of Rockwell still requires a shareholder vote and regulatory approvals. If it passes those, the deal likely would close between July and September 2018.

Ortberg would lead Collins Aerospace as its CEO. UTC Aerospace President Dave Gitlin would serve as president and chief operating officer.

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

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