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Aeroflex buyer says employees' future undetermined

"We believe Aeroflex and Cobham are a natural fit," Aeroflex chief executive Len Borow said in a statement Tuesday, May 20, 2014, announcing the all-cash deal to be acquired by British company Cobham Plc. Credit: Newsday / Jim Peppler

A spokesman for the British aerospace company that agreed to acquire Plainview-based Aeroflex Holding Corp. for $1.46 billion said Wednesday that the future of the company's nearly 300 Long Island employees remains undetermined.

"The bottom line is it's early days," said Greg Caires, media liaison for Cobham PLC. "It will take a few months before the transaction [closes]. . . . It's premature to make plans on what is going to happen at any of the sites."

Though Cobham is based in Wimborne, England, it derives about half of its revenue from the U.S. market, where it employs more than 4,000 workers. Cobham's sole current New York site, Orchard Park, produces life support equipment for astronauts, and personal life rafts for fishermen and oil workers that deploy automatically from a back pack.

The Aeroflex sites in Plainview and Hauppauge would become part of Cobham's Advanced Electronic Solutions unit, which has locations in Philadelphia and Lowell, Massachusetts, Caires said. Aeroflex, which is 77 years old, has 2,600 employees at 20 locations.

The transaction, which is expected to close in August or September, must clear antitrust scrutiny from the Federal Trade Commission and the Justice Department as well as national security clearance from an interagency panel led by the Treasury Department.

After the acquisition was disclosed, more than 10 securities litigation law firms issued news releases announcing possible investigations into whether the Aeroflex board failed to negotiate the best price on behalf of shareholders.

Cobham plans to pay $10.50 per share for Aeroflex and assume $540 million of its debt.

Shares of Aeroflex, which rose about 25 percent on Tuesday, rose another 8 cents to $10.50 Wednesday.

Caires declined to comment on the possible shareholder lawsuits, saying only that the company "was aware" of the announcements.

Three private equity firms, Veritas Capital, Golden Gate Capital and the private equity arm of Goldman Sachs, took Aeroflex private in 2007. Aeroflex staged a stock offering again in 2010, but the private equity firms still own about three-quarters of the stock.

Cobham conferred with the private equity owners in negotiating a deal.

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