The deal is the largest struck so far by Chief Executive Officer Dennis Muilenburg, who has been scouting acquisitions that would more than triple sales at Boeing’s services business to $50 billion within a decade.
Boeing is boosting its bet on a new services division with CEO Dennis Muilenburg’s biggest deal yet.
The world’s largest planemaker will buy aerospace-parts distributor KLX for $3.25 billion while also taking on about $1 billion of net debt. The deal is contingent on the separation of KLX’s energy business, which the company plans to spin off to shareholders.
The purchase underscores Muilenburg’s bid to extend Boeing’s reach into the highly profitable business providing maintenance, spare parts and other services over the multi-decade lives of jetliners and military aircraft. The Boeing CEO has set a goal of more than tripling sales at the company’s newly formed services division to $50 billion within a decade.
“We continue to see global services as our biggest market-growth opportunity,” Muilenburg told reporters at Boeing’s annual meeting Monday, hours before the deal was announced.
Boeing’s ambition to dominate aircraft repairs and services will likely spur more consolidation among aerospace suppliers that depend on the aftermarket for the bulk of their profit, Robert Stallard, an analyst with Vertical Research Partners, said in a note to clients.
“This deal marks another step forward in Boeing’s ambitious plans to expand its Global Services division, or as Boeing calls it ‘compete and win,’ ” Stallard wrote. “For every winner there is a loser, and for aerospace suppliers there will probably be fresh concern that this further increases Boeing’s purchasing power, and awareness of the economics in the aero aftermarket.”
KLX will become part of Boeing Global Services and will be fully integrated with the planemaker’s parts subsidiary, Aviall. The deal will generate an anticipated annual cost savings of $70 million by 2021, according to a Boeing statement. The planemaker will finance the KLX acquisition primarily through cash on hand.
Boeing said its 2018 guidance, capital-deployment strategy and commitment to returning free cash flow to shareholders won’t change. The company expects the acquisition to be neutral for earnings through next year.
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The deal is the largest struck so far by Muilenburg since he ascended to the CEO role in mid-2015. Boeing has held preliminary talks with partsmaker Woodward, according to reports in February, and is deep into talks to form a joint venture that would give it control of Embraer’s commercial jets.
While Boeing remains focused on organic growth, the company is exploring targeted takeovers and investments to round out its product portfolio, Muilenburg said. Boeing is also scouting deals in areas such as avionics — electronic communications or navigation equipment — where the planemaker is taking over work previously handled by suppliers.
Muilenburg created the services division last year by assembling an assortment of highly profitable units that support customers and altogether account for about 15 percent of total sales. The foray rattled aerospace suppliers and engine-makers, which typically make the bulk of their profit tending to aircraft over the 30 or more years the planes are flying.
KLX, which was spun out of B/E Aerospace in 2014 amid pressure from shareholder activists, generated about 90 percent of its $1.49 billion in sales from aircraft parts and aftermarket services in its most recent fiscal year. The Aerospace Solutions Group has approximately 2,000 employees with customer-service centers in about 15 countries.
The rest of KLX’s revenue came from the operation catering to oil and gas drillers, which is to be spun off to shareholders as KLX Energy Services.