Harris Names United Technologies M&A Head Brown as New CEO
Bill Brown, the United Technologies Corp. (UTX) strategy head who played a pivotal role in the company’s acquisition of Goodrich Corp. (GR), was named chief executive officer of military communications contractor Harris Corp. (HRS)
The 48-year-old executive will step into the new role Nov. 1, the Melbourne, Florida-based company said today in a statement. He succeeds Howard Lance, 55, who has been CEO since January 2003 and announced in May that he planned to retire.
Lance made 19 acquisitions during his tenure as CEO, expanding Harris’s businesses to include cyber security, public safety, healthcare-information technology and satellite communication systems. Two of three acquisitions made this year were valued at about $553 million combined.
Brown’s “first challenge is to continue integration of those acquisitions and the organic growth program,” Lance said in a telephone interview today. “Those initiatives take three to five years and I didn’t have an interest in that kind of runway.”
Brown was a “catalyst” in United Technologies’ $16.5 billion acquisition of aerospace-parts maker Goodrich, Chief Executive Officer Louis Chenevert said in September. The executive led more than 40 acquisitions as chief of the Fire & Security unit before Chenevert named him to lead deals and strategy in March.
“I felt to get a larger transaction done, I needed somebody by my side that had superb deal experience,” Chenevert said in a Sept. 22 interview after the Goodrich deal was announced. Brown was “the catalyst to make sure we had the right data in front of us, and pushed the right agenda.”
Lance said he expects Harris to continue to seek acquisitions outside the U.S., citing the example of the company’s recent purchase of a communications unit from Schlumberger Ltd., an oil-services company. That unit has expanded Harris’s satellite-based communications into Asia, Latin America and Africa, “all the oil-producing regions offshore,” Lance said.
Harris climbed 3.7 percent to $35.83 at the close in New York. The shares have slid 21 percent this year. United Technologies rose 3.2 percent to $73.75.
The company posted $5.92 billion in revenue in its fiscal year ended July, with more than a third generated by the unit that makes mobile radios and networking applications for defense and security. Its largest customer was the U.S. government, data compiled by Bloomberg show.
Harris began searching for a successor for Lance in May after he announced his plan to retire, said Jim Burke, a company spokesman. Lance will remain as chairman through Oct. 31 and non-executive chairman through Dec. 31. Harris plans to appoint Brown to its board at its December meeting and name him chairman later, the company said.
Lance said restructuring the company’s portfolio and “getting out of commercial telecom that was not a good fit for the company” were among his accomplishments. “We established strong organic growth in our core government business both in the U.S. and internationally.” The unit sells tactical radios and provides communication systems to defense and intelligence agencies.
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