GE, Eaton, Warburg remain bidders for BAE unit -sources

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General Electric Co, Eaton Corp and private equity firm Warburg Pincus WP.UL remain in the race for BAE Systems Plc’s Platform Solutions unit as the auction reaches the final stage, two people familiar with the matter said.

GE, which has control over the sale process as a major customer of BAE Systems’ aircraft engine controls, remains “very interested” in the unit with final bids expected in the next few weeks, the sources said.

Honeywell International and several private equity firms, including the Carlyle Group CYL.UL, were involved early in the process but appear to have dropped out, the sources said, Reuters reports.

French aerospace and defence group Safran had also examined a potential bid but is currently not involved, one of the sources said.

They asked not to be identified because details of the auction are not public.

Bankers and analysts have expected the unit to fetch between US$1.6 billion (1.01 billion pounds) to $2 billion, or roughly 8 to 10 times its earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation of about US$190 million.

GE is a major customer of BAE’s aircraft engine controls and is mainly attracted by the division of BAE’s Platform Solutions group that makes aircraft-engine electronic controls for GE and for CFM International, sources have said.

The big question in the BAE unit auction is whether GE will ultimately decide to do vertical integration by adding the maker of aircraft engine controls to its existing engine-making operations, sources told Reuters previously.

BAE’s Platform Solutions group also includes a commercial avionics business, which it bought from Boeing Co in 2004, that makes aircraft components that help with navigation and surveillance, as well as a division that makes hybrid propulsion systems for buses and trucks.

That hybrid division has emerged as a potential drag in the auction process as its performance was not as robust as bidders initially expected, sources told Reuters previously.

That has also created a price gap between the bidders and BAE Systems, which wants to sell the business at around 10 times its EBITDA, the two sources said on Friday.

Most bidders also did not want the entire Platform Solutions business but BAE Systems has no interest in selling the unit in pieces, one of the sources said.



JPMorgan Chase & Co and Wells Fargo are advising BAE on the sale.