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France's Safran aims to topple UTC

Aerospace supplier to buy a Rockwell operation

Logo of the Safran Aircraft Engines plant is seen on the company’s headquarters building in Blagnac, near Toulouse, France March 21, 2018. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau
Logo of the Safran Aircraft Engines plant is seen on the company’s headquarters building in Blagnac, near Toulouse, France March 21, 2018. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau

PARIS — Safran unveiled ambitions to become the world’s leading aerospace supplier in 15 years, overtaking United Technologies Corp., as it pledged a research and development spending drive while increasing cash returns to shareholders.

But the French aerospace engine and equipment supplier said it did not plan major new acquisitions after buying Zodiac Aerospace to become, according to its calculations, the industry’s second-largest aerospace equipment supplier.

In October, Safran said it would acquire one of the two businesses Rockwell Collins needed to sell to gain U.S. Department of Justice approval for Rockwell’s own purchase by UTC.

That business, based in Florida, California and Mexico, makes trimmable horizontal stabilizer actuators. The sale of the THSA operation to Safran is set to be completed this year.

Farmington, Conn.-based UTC announced its acquisition of Rockwell, Cedar Rapids’ largest employer, on Monday. Rockwell was joined with UTC Aerospace Systems is become Collins Aerospace.

Safran, itself formed from a 2004 merger, confirmed a goal of $228 million of annual pretax cost savings from the merger by 2022 and said “further upside has been identified.”

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