By Thomas Gryta
United Technologies Corp. Chief Executive Greg Hayes said that he expects to close the $23 billion acquisition of Rockwell Collins Inc. by the end of the month, and that in the meantime the industrial conglomerate is forging ahead with plans for a possible breakup.
The deal was announced a year ago and Mr. Hayes said in May that he expected it to close in June or July, leading to speculation that regulators were raising questions. Trade tensions with China have also led to fear that the deal could become a negotiating chip in the larger trade controversy.
"The regulatory process in China has gone as well as we could have expected," Mr. Hayes said at a Morgan Stanley conference Friday.
The delay was caused by the need to sell a business unit as part of the deal, but it reached an agreement to sell those operations to France's Safran SA earlier this month, he said.
Chinese regulators are waiting for the U.S. Department of Justice to approve the deal, he said, which is expected soon. The company has answered all questions from the various regulatory agencies, he said.
Mr. Hayes said the review is going slower than expected but, in a reversal, he noted that the company isn't waiting for the deal to close to evaluate its portfolio.
"We haven't been waiting for the close to do the work," he said, adding that the company is looking at various options for splitting up.
The company has previously talked about a possible three-way split with its aerospace business, including Rockwell Collins, combining with jet engine maker Pratt & Whitney. The Otis elevator business would be separate, as would its Climate, Controls & Security division, which owns Carrier air conditioners.
Activist investor Bill Ackman's Pershing Square Capital Management LP and Daniel Loeb's Third Point LLC have been pushing the company to pursue a split.
A decision about the process is expected within 60 days, Mr. Hayes said Friday, but hinted that investors prefer the company to separate.
"It is not a surprise," he said. "Investors tend to value focused companies."
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