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United Technologies to split into three and focus on aerospace

Move comes after two activist investors, Bill Ackman and Dan Loeb, took stakes in United Technologies and pushed for a breakup

A United Technologies plant in Indiana.Firm will break itself into three amid activist investor pressure. AP
A United Technologies plant in Indiana.Firm will break itself into three amid activist investor pressure. AP

United Technologies will break itself up, capping months of pressure on chief executive Greg Hayes to separate the conglomerate’s aerospace operations from its elevators and climate-controls divisions.

The company, buoyed by the just-completed $23 billion purchase of Rockwell Collins, will retain its aerospace business and operate with two divisions: Pratt & Whitney jet engines: and Collins Aerospace Systems. Otis Elevator and Carrier, a provider of air conditioners and heating systems, will be spun off as independent companies, United Technologies said.

The three-way split caps a dramatic overhaul of United Technologies under Mr Hayes, who negotiated the blockbuster Rockwell Collins acquisition last year and closed the deal this week. Two activist investors, Bill Ackman of Pershing Square Capital Management and Dan Loeb of Third Point, took stakes in United Technologies and pushed for a breakup. Mr Loeb said a three-way split would unlock $20bn in shareholder value.

“Our decision to separate United Technologies is a pivotal moment in our history and will best position each independent company to drive sustained growth, lead its industry in innovation and customer focus, and maximise value creation,” Mr Hayes said.

Mr Hayes will continue as chairman and CEO of United Technologies following the tax-free separations of Otis and Carrier, which are expected to be completed in 18 to 24 months. Pershing and Third Point declined to comment.

Barclays had anticipated the breakup taking 18 months. “The longer spin process may put United Technologies shares at risk of ‘spin limbo,” analyst Julian Mitchell said in a note to investors. During the period between an announcement and the close of a spin-off, the last 13 industrials stocks to go through the process have underperformed the S&P 500 Index by 4 per cent, he wrote.


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United Technologies climbed 1 per cent to $129.32 before the start of regular trading Tuesday in New York, Bloomberg said. The shares were little changed this year through the close on Monday, leaving its market value at about $100bn. A Standard & Poor’s index of aerospace and defence companies fell 1.8 per cent during the same period.

In pursuing a split, United Technologies will follow DowDuPont, General Electric and Honeywell International in busting up a diverse array of holdings.

Honeywell has spun off two low-growth businesses this year. DowDupont, the result of a merger between two chemical giants, will split into three separate companies next year. GE is aggressively selling assets to tighten its focus amid a steep stock decline.

At United Technologies, the world’s largest aerospace supplier, Collins Aerospace and Pratt & Whitney would have had sales of $39bn last year on a pro forma basis, United said. Otis, which has more than two million elevators in use, had $12.3bn in sales last year. Carrier had $17.8bn.

Until the transactions are completed, Connecticut-based United Technologies will continue to pay its quarterly dividend of at least 73.5 US cents a share.

Following the separation, the quarterly dividends paid by the three companies will initially total at least 73.5 cents a share. But “each company’s dividend policy will be determined by its respective board of directors following the completion of the separation”, the firm said.

Updated: November 27, 2018 05:20 PM