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Spirit AeroSystems To Purchase European Aviation Company

Spirit AeroSystems
Spirit says its acquisition of European company Asco will expand its content on Airbus A320 wings.

Spirit AeroSystems said Wednesday it will acquire a European company, refinance its debt, repurchase shares of its stock and increase its quarterly dividend.

The announcements were part of the Wichita company’s first-quarter earning statements. Spirit is the city’s largest private employer.

The company said it would purchase Asco Industries for $650 million in cash. The Belgium-based company builds structures for the aerospace industry, including for Boeing.

The company employs 1,400 people at manufacturing sites in Stillwater, Okla,; Vancouver, British Columbia; Gedern, Germany; and Zaventum, Belgium, where the company is headquartered.

"Asco is a compelling fit for Spirit that aligns extremely well with the strategic priorities we have been communicating," Spirit President and CEO Tom Gentile said in a statement. "Specifically, it expands our Airbus content on A320 and A350 wings, adds new defense content on the F-35 and broadens our commercial capabilities to help grow our fabrication business."

Spirit also said it will refinance some of its existing debt and repurchase $725 million in stock. The company’s board of directors also approved a 20 percent increase in the quarterly cash dividend.

"The acquisition of Asco, the refinancing of our debt, the accelerated share repurchase program of $725 million and the increase in cash dividend reinforces the confidence we have in our long-term growth and cash flow generation," Gentile said in a statement.

Spirit reported revenue in the first quarter of $1.7 billion, up 2 percent from the same period in 2017. The company said earnings were $160 million, down about 22 percent year over year due to lower margins in the Boeing 737 program, fewer 777 deliveries and losses on the 787 program.

The company delivered nearly 400 shipsets for Boeing and Airbus during the first quarter. Spirit’s backlog was nearly $50 billion at the end of the quarter, which includes work on all commercial platforms for Boeing and Airbus.

Tom Shine is the director of news and public affairs. Follow him on Twitter @thomaspshine. To contact KMUW News or to send in a news tip, reach us at news@kmuw.org.