The Deal: Spirit AeroSystems Shops Assembly Unit

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) - Spirit AeroSystems Holdings ( SPR) said Tuesday that it had hired advisers to shop its Oklahoma-based assembly operations, as new CEO Larry Lawson begins to put his stamp on the aerospace component manufacturer.

Wichita, Kan.-based Spirit, which was spun out of Boeing ( BA) in 2005 but remains a major supplier to both its former parent and other aircraft manufacturers, also said it would delay its second-quarter earnings release while it awaits an auditor review. The company said it expects to report second quarter revenue of $1.5 billion, up 13% from a year prior due to higher production volumes.

Spirit officials said they have already held talks with potential buyers but did not disclose who those parties were or say what firm would be shopping the assets. Reports out of Europe last month named British manufacturer GKN plc as a potential buyer for some or all of Spirit.

The Daily Mail said that GKN was readying a $5 billion bid for all of Spirit, though nothing has materialized so far. Companies like Spirit that have heavy exposure to commercial aerospace are in demand right now as airlines race to modernize their fleets to save on fuel charges and offer new international routes to travelers.

Canadian private equity firm Onex Corp. bought the Boeing assets that created Spirit for $1.2 billion in 2005 and used M&A to help diversify the company away from the U.S. aerospace giant. But the company, which went public in late 2006, has been on the defensive since announcing late last year that its profits would be hit by cost overruns.

Lawson was hired in March and in May pledged to do a "comprehensive evaluation" of various facilities while streamlining operations. Spirit said that the decision to sell plants in Tulsa and McAlester, Okla., came out of its May decision to conduct a strategic review. The Oklahoma facilities, which accounts for about 14% of the company's $3 billion in year-to-date sales, employ about 3,000.

The company also warned it expects to record a charge of up to $400 million related to higher costs associated with wings it makes for Gulfstream business jets.

Written by Lou Whiteman in New York

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