GE to Buy Avio's Aviation Business for $4.3 Billion

It's official. On Friday, General Electric (NYSE: GE  ) confirmed a deal, previously reported to be in negotiations, to purchase Italian aerospace company Avio SpA -- or at least part of it -- from its current owners, private equity firm Cinven and Italian aerospace giant Finmeccanica.

In a press release on the transaction that went out this morning, GE confirmed that it will be buying Avio's aviation division only, and what's more, paying less than the rumored purchase price for it: only $4.3 billion. GE explained the purchase price as being predicated on a valuation of 8.5 times 2012 estimated earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, a valuation cheaper than GE's own EBITDA multiple of 8.9.

As regards Avio's space business, which GE specifically stated it will not be purchasing, its fate is as-yet unknown. Neither did GE reveal the deadline by which it expects the aviation division's sale to close. The transaction is subject to regulatory and governmental approvals.

GE said the acquisition of Avio’s aviation business would "further GE’s participation in jet propulsion, one of the most attractive sectors of the aviation industry." Founded in 1908 and headquartered in Turin, Italy, Avio operates in four continents and employs about 5,300 people, 4,500 of whom are in Italy, including about 800 in the space unit.

Shares of GE are following the market down today, off 1.4% as of this writing at $20.75.

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