GE Said to Beat Safran for $4 Billion Avio Acquisition

GE May Reach Deal to Buy Italian Defense Company Avio This Week
An employee works on a segment of an Avio SpA Ariane 5 space rocket booster at the company's production plant in Colleferro, near Rome. Photographer: Alessia Pierdomenico/Bloomberg

General Electric Co., the world’s largest jet-engine maker, may reach an agreement to buy aerospace-parts supplier Avio SpA from Cinven Ltd. this week, according to two people familiar with the matter.

A deal may be valued at about 3 billion euros ($4 billion), said one of the people, who asked not to be identified because talks are private. Safran SA, which previously approached with a competing offer, is no longer in the running, two other people familiar with the talks said.

Buying Turin, Italy-based Avio would follow GE’s formation of a partnership with Mitsui & Co. in October and a joint venture with Parker Hannifin Corp. last month, both focused on components for the company’s next-generation commercial engines. The transactions give GE more control over its supply chain as Airbus SAS and Boeing Co. push output to records.

Avio makes components for GE’s newest engine, the GEnx, which powers Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner and 747-8 jumbo jet. It’s also a supplier to CFM International SA, a GE-Safran joint venture that is the exclusive source of engines for the Boeing 737, the world’s most widely flown passenger jet.

GE is considering selling assets from Avio that it doesn’t want to keep to Paris-based Safran, one of the people said.

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Spokesmen at Cinven, GE, Avio and Safran declined to comment. Il Sole 24 and the Wall Street Journal previously reported that a deal with GE may be close.

GE fell 1.1 percent to $21.69 at the close in New York. The Fairfield, Connecticut-based company will consider acquisitions of as much as $4 billion, Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Immelt told analysts and investors yesterday in New York, after previously giving a target of $1 billion to $3 billion.

Cinven bought Avio in 2006 from Carlyle Group LP and Finmeccanica SpA in a deal that valued the company at about 2.6 billion euros. The buyout firm began preparing Avio for a sale last year when it hired banks to manage an initial public offering. The IPO was postponed amid stock-market swings, after London-based Cinven received approaches from suitors including Safran.

GE has been discussing an acquisition of Avio, a person with direct knowledge of the talks said last month, and its purchase follows Cinven’s rejection of a previous offer from private-equity firms CVC Capital Partners Ltd. and Clessidra SGR SpA, which earlier offered about 3 billion euros, people said last month.

Finmeccanica, Italy’s biggest defense company, in May agreed to sell its 15 percent Avio stake to Fondo Strategico Italiano SpA, the country’s 4 billion-euro investment fund. As part of the joint offer with CVC and Clessidra, the fund was set to own about 20 percent of Avio and Cinven would keep about 10 percent.


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