EU Is Now Key To GE/Honeywell Merger

By John S. McClenahen What will Monti want? That's the key question in General Electric Co.'s pending acquisition of Honeywell International Inc. now that the U.S. Justice Dept. has preliminarily cleared the $43 billion tax-free deal. Monti refers to Mario Monti, the European Union's (EU) antitrust chief. Part of the price for U.S. approval of the merger is agreement by GE and Honeywell to divest Honeywell's military helicopter-engine business, which generated about $200 million in revenues in 2000. The companies also agreed to allow a third party to provide service for some models of Honeywell aircraft engines and aircraft auxiliary power units. The EU's verdict on the deal may not come until mid-July. Speculation is that the price of EU approval could be higher than was the U.S. Justice Dept.'s. Technically, the U.S. Justice Dept., GE, and Honeywell have only an agreement in principle on the merger's clearance. It is subject to final negotiation and the entry of a consent decree. GE and Honeywell accounted for about $155 billion in combined revenues last year.

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