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Spirit's Asco acquisition on track to close by mid-year: CEO

Spirit AeroSystems has restarted the regulatory process required to complete a $650 million acquisition of SRIF, parent of Belgium-based aircraft component maker Asco.

Wichita-based Spirit expects to complete the purchase by mid-year, having notified the European Commission on 30 January of its acquisition intentions, Spirit says.

In October, Spirit halted an earlier regulatory review when it withdrew its initial acquisition notification to the Commission due to regulatory concerns.

"Our confidence level is higher now that we have re-filed," Spirit chief executive Thomas Gentile says during Spirit's 2018 earnings call on 1 February. "Our goal is to close the deal in the first half of the year. We remain confident in this closing and don't anticipate any change to the original deal economics."

SRIF's Asco unit makes flap and slat mechanisms and support structures, landing gear sub-assemblies and fuselage structural components. Its products are on Airbus A320s, Airbus A350s and Lockheed Martin F-35 fighters.

Acquiring Asco would help Spirit expand beyond its Boeing-heavy portfolio into Airbus-related and military work, Spirit executives have said.

Spirit has made "substantial progress in identifying the issues the European Commission raised concerning" Asco's involvement in Belgium aerospace consortium Belairbus, says Gentile.

Belairbus was formed in the 1970s as a means for Belgium's aerospace industry to present a single face to its largest customer, Airbus, Gentile says.

Other members of the consortium include aerostructures specialist Sonaca and aerospace gears company BMT Aerospace

"Most of the work that we did was to just align individual partners within that Belairbus structure directly to Airbus," Gentile says. "Airbus was extremely supportive and we were able to get everything in line to meet the requirements and concerns that the Commission raised."

Spirit anticipates the European Commission will complete its review in about 30 days, says Gentile.

Spirit intends to fund the $650 million purchase using $400 million in cash and $250 million in loans, it says.

In an earlier version, BMT Aerospace's name was miskeyed. This has been corrected

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