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Fri, Jun 27, 2003

Boeing/BAe?

The Chicago Tribune reports that, in a meeting earlier this week in London, Boeing Chairman Phil Condit "said he is interested in the possibility of combining with BAE Systems PLC."

It's one of many ideas, the Boeing boss man noted, that are currently being discussed, to add shareholder value; and it's not setting in concrete, just yet.

BAe has long been publicly shopping for a US partner, and Boeing is a logical fit, except, possibly, for one thing: Boeing has too many things going on. Boeing is one of the US's top defense contractors, and holds, controls, and produces scads of sensitive and secret information; and BAe is a British company. Just how the State and Defense Departments would look upon close relations could become a problem. BAe, though, is already the sixth-largest defense contractor to the Pentagon, according to the Trib (Boeing is #2, behind the Georgia-based Lockheed Martin); and we remember BAe tried to buy TRW last year (and lost that bid to Lockheed Martin).

Boeing recently publicly admitted to having corporate-secret Lockheed Martin information on the EELV program; Lockheed Martin responded with a rare lawsuit.

On Wednesday, the two fired Boeing employees, Kenneth Branch, 64, and his former supervisor, William Erskine, 43, were formally charged with federal conspiracy crimes relating to Branch's recruitment from Lockheed Martin.

Whether the BAe connection would be a purchase, swap, or merger has not, of course, been detailed; but Condit hinted at the last arrangement: "Would I do a merger if it created value? Yes," Condit said. The key would be whether such a deal would bring marginal increases to Boeing's bottom line, he explained.

FMI: www.boeing.com

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