Raytheon has agreed to sell its Raytheon Aircraft (RAC) business unit to a partnership made up of Goldman Sachs' investment arm GS Capital Partners and Canada's Onex for $3.3 billion. The company will be known as Hawker Beechcraft after completion of the deal, which is due to take place early in the second quarter of 2007.

Raytheon chief executive William Swanson says the sale fits in with the company's strategy of "focusing on our core government and defence business".

There are no plans to move production of any of RAC's aircraft lines, which include the Hawker 750 and 900XP, as a result of the change in ownership, according to Onex managing director Nigel Wright. The company's existing management team will also remain in their current positions.

Raytheon is not selling its Flight Options fractional ownership business, which operates Hawkers and Beechcrafts, as part of the deal. But Raytheon's senior vice-president and chief financial officer David Wajsgras says the companies will maintain a three-year agreement to ensure their co-operation continues "basically the way business has been conducted previously".

Raytheon intends to use the net proceeds of the deal, which amount to around $2.5 billion, to reduce debt, authorising the early settlement of $1 billion of debt as well as the repurchase of up to $750 million of the company's outstanding shares, subject to completion of the deal.

Onex took its first major step into the aerostructures manufacturing business when it took over the Wichita-based former Boeing unit, now known as Spirit Aerosystems, in 2005.

Raytheon is selling RAC's Arkan­sas, Kansas and Texas facilities as well as its UK, Mexican and US fixed-based operation network.

Source: Flight International