United Technologies #CEO: ‘We owe #investors an #answer’ on whether we’ll #break up the #company

After announcing at an industry conference that he was considering breaking up his massive industrial company, United Technologies CEO Greg Hayes elaborated on his thought process to CNBC.

Speaking to “Mad Money” host Jim Cramer on Friday after United Technologies’ annual investor meeting, Hayes said that the potential split was a hot topic at the shareholder confab.

“I heard from a lot of investors today. Some of them say, ‘Absolutely, you need to break the company up because elevators and air conditioners have nothing to do with jet engines,'” Hayes told Cramer in an exclusive interview. “Some of the other investors who have been around have, perhaps, a longer term perspective, understand the benefits and the synergies that you have from having a large company together.”

At the industry conference three weeks ago, Hayes wondered, according to a transcript, whether the company would be a “more valuable property together” or “better off in three separate businesses.”

On Friday, Hayes continued to weigh the pros and cons, saying that United Technologies benefits from “best-in-class” expense costs thanks to the massive scale of its business.

“Obviously you lose some of that if you break it up, but it’s still something we need to think through,” he told Cramer. “We need to go through the process and I think we owe investors an answer by the end of the year.”

As it stands, United Technologies is made up of four parts: Pratt & Whitney, its aircraft engine unit; UTC Aerospace Systems, the catch-all aerospace and defense systems supplier; UTC Climate, Controls & Security, which deals in things like fire safety and ventilation; and Otis, which makes elevators, escalators and moving walkways.

While some more adamant shareholders have been agitating for a breakup, Hayes said that he has made his top priority clear to United Technologies’ board of directors.

“I said the first thing we need to do is close on Rockwell Collins,” Hayes said, referencing his company’s recent acquisition of the rival manufacturer. “We’ll do that in the next two, three months here, and then once we’ve closed on Rockwell, once we’ve started the integration, I told the board we’d go through a process by the end of the year to make a decision.”

And, with board members whose careers have spanned giants like GlaxoSmithKline, DowDuPont and CBS, Hayes felt his company was in good hands.

“You’ve got just a great, great group of people that have a keen understanding of the investors and of the business,” the CEO said on Friday. “And so it’s not like we need to go outside and ask a lot of questions because I think the board truly understands what’s important to investors and the long-term stakeholders in the business.”

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