United Technologies Officials Say No Plan to Sell Rocketdyne

United Technologies Corp. has no plans to sell or spin off Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne, the unit that builds rocket engines for civilian and military missions, according to one of the company’s top executives.

“Right now, there is no plan,” to sell or spin off Rocketdyne, David Hess, president of Pratt & Whitney, the United Technologies division that includes Rocketdyne, said in a short interview after a media event in Washington. “We look at our entire portfolio every day and obviously, given some of the uncertainty in space right now, we look at Rocketdyne and everything else.”

Rocketdyne’s president, Jim Maser, also downplayed reports of potential buyer interest, saying United Technologies, based in Hartford, Connecticut, is constantly reviewing strategic options such as acquisitions, divestitures and partnerships.

“I don’t think those options ever really change over time,” Maser said in a separate interview in Washington. “Within United Technologies, I would say at any given time, some portion of their business is going to be for sale for the right price, so I think at any given point in time, we would fall into that category.”

Reports of a possible sale surfaced in July after NASA’s final space shuttle mission. Rocketdyne, which makes liquid-fueled rocket propulsion systems, receives about 60 percent of its revenue from the space agency, Maser said. The company this summer laid off about 250 employees in part because of uncertainty in the space program, he said.

Heavy-Lift Rocket

Maser said inquires from potential buyers were “exploratory,” and would not identify which companies expressed an interest.

The comments came the same day NASA announced the design for a new heavy-lift rocket, called the Space Launch System -- the biggest since the Saturn V rocket carried Apollo astronauts to the moon. The agency plans a competition to develop the boosters.

United Technologies rose $1.23, or 1.7 percent, to $73.68 in New York Stock Exchange composite trading.

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