is expected to complete the sale of its Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne rocket propulsion arm within the next two weeks as part of efforts to raise $3 billion to help finance its acquisition of .
Although the rocket maker declines to comment, Aviation Week understands final paperwork is in the process of being signed for the company’s sale to a private equity group. UTC originally put Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne (PWR) up for sale in 2011, and revived its offer in March following shareholder approval for the takeover of Goodrich on March 13.
Other U.S. rocket manufacturers, Alliant Techsystems (ATK) and GenCorp’s, were originally thought to be the most likely potential bidders for PWR, which UTC bought from for $700 million in 2005. However sources at the 28th National Space Symposium being held here tell Aviation Week that unnamed investors are in the process of clinching the deal.
Formeradministrator Mike Griffin is amongst those thought to be linked to be deal. Griffin is also involved in Stratolaunch Systems, the company founded late in 2011 to develop a next-generation mobile airborne launch system based on a hybrid aircraft formed from two . Another board member of Stratolaunch is Dave King, vice president of Dynetics – the Huntsville, Alabama-based company that will be responsible for integration of the launch vehicle and carrier aircraft systems.
Coincidently, Dynetics and PWR announced at the National Space Symposium a long-term partnership to compete for theSpace Launch System (SLS) Advanced Booster Engineering Demonstration and/or Risk Reduction (ABEDRR) procurement. Under this agreement, Dynetics and PWR will have exclusive rights to the use of the Saturn V F-1 rocket engine technology.
Sources close to the negotiations say that PWR does not require a partnership with an established propulsion company to fulfill its broader strategic objectives, and that work is going on to “disentangle” its operations from those of UTC. The challenge is hardest in West Palm Beach, Florida, where the rocket maker shares production and test facilities with those of main engine maker Pratt & Whitney, and helicopter manufacturer. The rocket maker is understood to be exploring separate entrances to the swampland site as part of the process.
In California, PWR has been busy consolidating its Canoga Park sites close to Los Angeles as part of drastic cost-cutting moves in the wake of the retirement of the Space Shuttle in 2011. “Between now and 2013 we’ll cut the amount of fixed space in half – with the lion’s share of square footage in California,” says PWR President Jim Maser. “We’ll be going from 2.1 million square feet to under 1 million square feet.”
The company is also moving to a common set of assets that will serve “the entire production line,” Maser adds. “We are basically redefining the organization as we transition into the future as we see it. The primary objective is on reducing the cost of manufacturing in a low volume environment, customers’ risk posture and procurement strategy. We’re also through the lion’s share in reducing staff,” says Maser. Overall employment, which peaked at 17,700 during the Apollo program in the mid-1960s, is now at 2,400 – representing a reduction of around 1,000 over the past three years.