Commercial applications of unmanned aerial vehicles (“UAVs” or “drones”) were among the highlights at this past week’s annual AUVSI conference in Atlanta, Georgia. Venture investors continue to plow money into commercial UAVs businesses (noted by Accel Ventures’ investment this week of $75 million into Chinese drone firm DJI, valuing DJI at ~$8 billion).
Northrop Grumman and General Dynamics, in their earnings calls earlier this week, reiterated that their stock buyback programs will remain preferred methods of cash deployment.
The House Armed Services Committee (“HASC”) began its markup of the National Defense Authorization Act this week to be completed by April 29th. The HASC is in the process of marking up the following four sections; tactical air and land forces, military personnel, seapower and projection forces, and strategic forces, in that order. There has already been word that the seapower and projection forces section has distinct verbiage demanding oversight of the Air Force’s Long Range Strike-Bomber (“LRS-B”) program.
Earlier this week, the 2015 MRO Americas conference took place in Miami, FL. The conference, which is the aerospace industry’s pre-eminent conference covering all topics related to maintenance, repair, and overhaul (“MRO”), featured Embraer’s Chief Operating Officer, Luis Carlos Affonso, as its opening keynote speaker.
Bombardier’s new Chief Executive Officer, Allain Bellemare, led the next stage in the company makeover with a refresh of the executive team. Pierre Alary, the current Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, will retire while Mike Arcamone, the current head of the commercial aircraft division will depart to pursue other opportunities.
On Tuesday, President Obama lifted a freeze on arms transactions with Egypt, marking a significant step towards repairing relations with the Middle East nation during a period of regional instability. The decision to remove the arms freeze, which had been in place since October 2013, provides an additional source of foreign military sales for American weapons manufacturers that have faced defense spending caps and budget cuts domestically.
RBC Bearings Incorporated demonstrated its commitment to growth this week with its acquisition of Dover’s Sargent Aerospace & Defense business, a precision-engineered manufacturer for commercial aerospace and military programs. The transaction, valued at $500 million, was viewed positively by the market as its stock price jumped significantly since announcement on March 26th.
Finmeccanica CEO Mauro Moretti announced that the Company will delay its decision regarding the potential sale of its U.S. subsidiary, DRS Technologies. Initial discussions around a sale of DRS began last summer. More recently, Moretti said the Company was seeking a partner to help run the unit, while divesting DRS’s Aviation and Logistics unit and its Training Communications and Network solutions unit.