by Ray Jaworowski, Forecast International.
In a move that could set the stage for a corporate divestiture, United Technologies Corp (UTC) has appointed a new president to head its Sikorsky Aircraft subsidiary. Effective immediately, former UTC executive Robert Leduc has been named president of the global helicopter manufacturer, succeeding Mick Maurer.
Leduc had retired from UTC in 2014, following a 35-year career in which he held numerous management posts at various UTC subsidiaries, including Hamilton Sundstrand, Pratt & Whitney, and UTC Aerospace Systems. At Pratt, he was in charge of the engine manufacturer’s Large Commercial Engines business and, at Hamilton, he led the Space Systems and Boeing Programs business segments. Over the past year, during his brief time away from UTC, Leduc was an advisor at the private equity firm Advent International.
Though he is leaving Sikorsky, Maurer is not leaving UTC. He has been named Senior Vice President of Strategic Projects at UTC, a newly created position. Both he and Leduc will report directly to UTC President and CEO Greg Hayes.
The management shuffle may well portend a future divestiture by UTC of Sikorsky. This divestiture, should it occur, would likely take the form of a spinoff of Sikorsky into an independent, stand-alone company. Such a spinoff would be “tax-free,” as it would enable UTC to avoid the capital gains taxes that would be incurred if it sold Sikorsky to another firm.
Indeed, the official UTC announcement of Leduc’s appointment specifically mentions the possibility of Leduc being the future CEO of a spun-off, independent Sikorsky.
Having been named UTC president and CEO in November 2014, Hayes is thought to be more open to the possibility of divesting Sikorsky than was his predecessor, Louis Chenevert. At an investors conference in March 2015, Hayes cited a flat outlook for future sales of military helicopters, and said that UTC was exploring various alternatives regarding Sikorsky’s future within UTC.
In his new role, Maurer will be heavily involved in the determination of Sikorsky’s fate. He will be working with Mike Dumais, UTC Senior Vice President of Strategic Planning, to complete the ongoing strategic alternatives review concerning Sikorsky’s future and, should a spinoff be in the cards, ensure a successful separation of the division from its UTC parent.
Maurer has had quite a successful tenure as president of Sikorsky. When he was named to the post in 2012, his appointment was widely viewed as a popular one within the Sikorsky workforce. This was due in part to his engineering background as well as to the fact that he was an “internal hire”: he had worked for Sikorsky since 2000.
During his time as Sikorsky president, the company won two important and lucrative U.S. military contracts: a U.S. Navy contract to develop and produce the new presidential transport helicopter, and a U.S. Air Force contract to develop and produce that service’s new combat rescue helicopter. In addition, a Sikorsky/Boeing team was selected as one of two final participants in the Pentagon’s Joint Multi-Role (JMR) technology demonstration program. The JMR effort is intended to demonstrate technology to support the Pentagon’s Future Vertical Lift (FVL) program. The goal of the FVL effort is to develop and produce a new rotorcraft family aimed at future U.S. utility, attack, scout, and maritime helicopter replacement needs.