AEROSPACE ANALYSTS expect a short, sharp, bidding war for Westinghouse Electric's defence-electronics business, due to go on the auction block to help fund the group's recent expansion into television broadcasting.

The defence unit, which makes military radar and air-traffic-control equipment, could go for more than $2 billion, believe analysts. A further $1.5 billion is expected from the sale of another unnamed unit, likely to be the Knoll office-furniture business.

Westinghouse chairman Michael Jordan projects a quick sale of the defence unit, probably during the first quarter of 1996. Jordan says that a "select group" of major defence contractors has already shown strong interest.

Although no names have been given, Hughes Aircraft, Raytheon, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman are among those linked with a possible acquisition.

The business based near Baltimore, Maryland and employing some 8,500, is arguably the last major stand-alone electronics supplier to the US defence industry.

"The changes in the defence industry, which has consolidated into larger, highly efficient, players, presented us with a clear strategic choice: take advantage of the high premiums for defence-related assets and divest the business, or grow to retain our industry leadership position for the future," says Jordan.

He adds that, given the recent $5.4 billion acquisition of US television station CBS, the sale of defence electronics was the "logical" choice.

Source: Flight International