WASHINGTON — L3Harris Technologies plans to acquire propulsion expert Aerojet Rocketdyne in a deal valued at $4.7 billion, the two companies announced Sunday.
The move comes after Lockheed Martin ended its acquisition effort in February.
L3Harris, which is the United States’ sixth-largest defense company, said it would pay $58 per share in an all-cash deal to acquire the defense contractor, which specializes in propulsion systems and energetics. Aerojet, which generates about $2.3 billion in annual revenue, has facilities in California, Arkansas, Florida, Alabama and Washington, among other states.
Two years ago, Lockheed announced it would acquire Aerojet, but the deal quickly drew controversy. Raytheon Technologies publicly objected, saying the transaction would force it to negotiate with Lockheed, a major competitor, for solid-rocket motors.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., also questioned the deal and called for the Federal Trade Commission to examine it.
In early 2022, the FTC announced a lawsuit that sought to block the proposed $4.4 billion merger on antitrust grounds. The agency said it was concerned the deal would hurt competition in the defense industry by allowing Lockheed to cut off other contractors from vital missile components Aerojet provides, particularly scramjet engines for hypersonic missiles and control systems for missile interceptors.
Weeks later, Lockheed announced it would no longer seek to acquire Aerojet. In a statement, Jim Taiclet, Lockheed’s chief executive, said the company “determined that in light of the FTC’s actions, terminating the transaction is in the best interest of our stakeholders.”
L3Harris has dramatically reshaped itself in recent years. In 2019, L3 Technologies and Harris Corp. merged into what became the ninth-largest defense firm in the world at the time. The year before, L3 Technologies ranked 18th, and Harris Corp. ranked 26th.
The combined company, with $14.9 billion in 2021 defense revenue, was the 10th largest defense firm in this year’s rankings. Aerojet’s nearly $1.5 billion in defense revenue put the company at 65th place on this year’s Defense News Top 100 list.
In its announcement Sunday, L3Harris and Aerojet said the deal “will ensure the defense industrial base and our customers will have a strengthened merchant supplier to effectively address both current and emerging threats — and promote scientific discovery and innovation — through targeted investment in advanced missile technologies, hypersonics and more.”
The deal is slated to close in 2023 and requires regulatory approvals.
Stephen Losey contributed to this report.
Marjorie Censer is the editor of Defense News. She was previously editor of Inside Defense. She has also worked as the defense editor at Politico, as well as a staff writer at the Washington Post, the Carroll County Times and the Princeton Packet.