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Archive for Thursday, May 27, 2004

Britain company to sell helicopter venture

May 27, 2004

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— British aerospace and automotive group GKN PLC has agreed to sell its 50 percent stake in helicopter joint venture AgustaWestland to its Italian partner Finmeccanica SpA for $1.92 billion in cash.

The deal announced Wednesday signaled the end of British ownership in the helicopter industry.

"This is a transforming move for GKN," Kevin Smith, company's chief executive, said. "It is the right price at the right time."

GKN will use money from the sale to pay for more acquisitions in its core automotive and aerospace parts operations and also to pay back some of its debt, analysts said.

In 2001, GKN purchased a Boeing Co. facility in suburban St. Louis, home of the Chicago-based aerospace giant's defense business, and remains a major subcontractor there.

Some analysts have speculated the company might use the money from the AgustaWestland sale to acquire the commercial aircraft operations of Boeing's Wichita plant. Neither Boeing or GKN has commented on whether GKN is interested in such a deal.

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