Spirit Aerosystems shares surge on report of possible Boeing buy

Spirit Aerosystems shares surge on report of possible Boeing buy

Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun went to Capitol Hill in January following a major safety incident on an Alaska Airlines flight
Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun went to Capitol Hill in January following a major safety incident on an Alaska Airlines flight. Photo: Anna Moneymaker / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/Getty Images via AFP/File
Source: AFP

Shares of Spirit AeroSystems surged Friday following a report it could be bought by Boeing as the aviation giant seeks to right itself amid its latest safety crisis.

Spirit has hired bankers and had "preliminary discussions" with Boeing, according to the Wall Street Journal, which cited unnamed sources and said the talks may not result in a transaction.

A deal would return Wichita, Kansas-based Spirit to Boeing after the larger company spun it off in 2005.

Shares of Spirit, which manufacturers fuselages and other large aerostructures, rose about 13 percent near midday, while Boeing fell 1.3 percent.

The boost lifted Spirit's market capitalization to $3.75 billion.

Spokespeople for both companies declined comment.

The talks come as Boeing faces intensified scrutiny from Washington after a January 5 incident on an Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 MAX that experienced a panel blowout mid-flight.

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A preliminary US investigation found that four bolts which help secure the panel were missing.

This investigation has pointed at Boeing's activities in Renton, Washington, where the plane was assembled. But Boeing over the last year also disclosed manufacturing and quality control problems at Spirit, which in October replaced its chief executive.

The Federal Aviation Administration on Wednesday gave Boeing 90 days to come up with a plan to address quality control issues.

On January 31, Boeing Chief Executive Dave Calhoun told CNBC that Boeing had sent a "huge team" to work with staff at Spirit.

Calhoun acknowledged that the company's earlier moves to rejigger its supply chain processes such as the sale of Spirit probably "went too far."

But "it's here and now," Calhoun told the network. "And now I've got to deal with it. And we're going to do it with engineers and mechanics working constructively together."

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Boeing originally divested the Wichita assets to Canadian private equity firm Onex in February 2005. The company went public as Spirit AeroSystems in November 2006.

Alan Mulally, who was Boeing's CEO at the time, described the move as allowing Boeing to focus on plane assembly, "which is where we are most competitive and can add the most value to our airplanes and services," he said, adding that an independent Wichita operation would lead to lower procurement costs for Boeing.

But in the wake of the Alaska Airlines problem, Boeing is under pressure to show improvement as it falls further behind arch-rival Airbus at a time of strong demand for new planes.

Source: AFP

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