Lockheed Martin Corp., the largest U.S. defense contractor, has agreed to buy United Technologies Corp.’s Sikorsky Aircraft for $9 billion, UTC announced early Monday, July 20.
Sikorsky employs 8,000 people across Connecticut, with its head office and largest plant in Stratford and satellite locations in Bridgeport, Trumbull and Shelton. Its workforce totals 15,000.
If the sale is approved by regulators, the helicopter maker would move out of its Connecticut-based ownership for the first time since 1929, four years after it was founded.
Analysts said Sunday they don’t expect any immediate threat to Connecticut employment but, over time, there could be a gradual shift in jobs out of the state.
Lockheed Martin chairman and chief operating officer Marilyn Hewson said in a statement that “Sikorsky is a natural fit for Lockheed Martin and complements our broad portfolio of world-class aerospace and defense products and technologies.”
Hewson added that she’s “confident this acquisition will help us extend our core business into the growing areas of helicopter production and sustainment. Together, we’ll offer a strong portfolio of helicopter solutions to our global customers and accelerate the pace of innovation and new technology development.”
UTC president and chief executive officer Gregory Hayes said UTC is “very pleased” with the sale.
“Exiting the helicopter business will allow UTC to better focus on providing high-technology systems and services to the aerospace and building industries and to deliver improved and sustained value to our customers and shareowners,” he said.
“Sikorsky’s acquisition by Lockheed Martin, one of the world’s leading aerospace and defense companies, will ensure it remains a technology leader at the forefront of vertical lift,” Hayes added. “We are committed to working closely with Lockheed Martin to execute a seamless transition for customers and employees.”
The helicopter maker’s sales of $7.4 billion in 2014 made up about 11 percent of UTC’s $66 billion in revenue. Sikorsky’s operating profit margin was the lowest of any UTC division in 2014.
Sikorsky would be Lockheed’s largest acquisition since it bought Martin Marietta Corp for about $10 billion two decades ago, according to Reuters.
Textron Inc. had submitted a bid for Sikorsky, but dropped out of the bidding after the price rose, according to several sources familiar with the matter, according to Reuters.
Sikorsky has downsized its workforce in recent years, primarily because of it reliance on the Pentagon budget for most of its business.
More updates on this story to come.