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Workers Threaten Suit to Block Spirit AeroSystems Sale

Stocks in this article: SPR BA

NEW YORK (The Deal) -- The union representing machinists at Spirit AeroSystems Holdings (SPR) said Friday it plans to file suit to block the company from outsourcing union jobs by selling assets, the latest twist to Spirit's long-running auction.

The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers is threatening the suit despite Spirit not formally announcing any plans to sell the units. But Wichita, Kan.-based Spirit has been considering options for some assets for about a year, and the businesses that the IAM are worried about being sold have been the subject of deal speculation in recent months.

Sources said Friday that the IAM action could be an indication that a deal announcement is close.

Spirit in August 2013 put its Oklahoma wing assembly operations on the block as part of a review sparked by new CEO Larry Lawson. That auction has moved in fits and starts in the months since, with Spirit according to sources exploring a number of potential avenues to try to shed some of its poorer-performing operations.

The company according to sources has attempted to sell off its money-losing business making business jet wings while keeping the more lucrative work making assemblies for Boeing (BA), but has found only tepid interest for the business jet operation. Sources said earlier this summer that Spirit has also discussed divesting some of its Wichita-based fabrication operations as a way to potentially offset losses it might incur from selling part of the wing unit.

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