14 août 2019 | International, Aérospatial

Big A&D Firms Seem To Be Merging Or Acquiring—Where’s Honeywell?

Michael Bruno 

United Technologies (UTC) and Raytheon are working hard to convince shareholders to approve their mega-merger.

 L3 Harris Technologies is riding high after its heritage companies consolidated recently. Industry insiders are making bets on who is next.

But Honeywell International has been conspicuously absent in all the major merger and acquisition (M&A) moves in recent years. Why? Honeywell Aerospace chief executive Tim Mahoney recently explained how his company still plans to take advantage of the wave of consolidation hitting aerospace and defense.

“We’ve looked,” Mahoney told an Aug. 7 investor conference. “We’ve never thought—and we continue to not think—that scale is a major discriminator and a differentiator within our marketplace. Having said that, you need to be large enough to be relevant, and we have been at that point. But scale is not something that is attractive or makes you more attractive from an OEM perspective or from an aftermarket perspective. We’ve continued to differentiate ourselves relative to value-added offerings.”

Mahoney spoke during a live interview with analyst Sheila Kahyaoglu at the Jefferies Global Industrials Conference. While Honeywell has remained active with bolt-on acquisitions—including the July 24 announcement it will buy autopilot specialist TruTrak Flight Systems for an undisclosed amount—the company has not consummated a prime- or OEM-level deal and even walked away from talks with UTC in 2016.

That same year, Honeywell did buy warehouse automation specialist Intelligrated for $1.5 billion. And Honeywell leaders have long assured Wall Street that they keep their eyes open in A&D, as Mahoney reaffirmed. But they have complained that valuations were too rich to be conducive to dealmaking. Mahoney also indicated that Honeywell could take advantage of the consolidation trend in another way.

“We’ve actually gone back and looked at when there has been very significant consolidations, or two companies coming together,” he explained. “That has actually helped us from a market share perspective, because typically when there’s a large-scale integration of two companies, those two companies become inwardly focused, which is understandable.

“As a result, we’ve been opportunistic relative to that,” he continued. “If you look at our cockpit systems business or some of those areas where we’ve competed with some of the companies that have consolidated, our auxiliary power unit business, you would see that we’ve actually grown disproportionately larger during those time periods.”

One area Honeywell is now focusing on growing is its new big-data analytics software Forge, which the company recently rolled out for airlines and other industrial companies (Aviation DAILY, June 6). While the software expectedly looks to provide aircraft operators with predictive maintenance, fuel optimization and other flight operation benefits, Honeywell is looking to add ground operations through an expanding experiment with Swissport, one of the world’s largest airport ground service providers.

Last December, Honeywell and Swissport signed a five-year agreement initially to apply Honeywell’s GoDirect Ground Handling product used across Swissport’s global operation base. Ben Driggs, president of Honeywell Connected Aircraft, told the investor conference that the goal is to achieve faster airplane turnarounds in the 20-40% of the time the aircraft is on the ground.

He said the partnership is first being implemented in Kansai International Airport (KIX) for Osaka, Japan, with Miami, Basel, Switzerland and “numerous” other Swissport airports planned.

https://aviationweek.com/defense/big-ad-firms-seem-be-merging-or-acquiring-where-s-honeywell

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