Stockholders OK Sale of Rockwell Units to Boeing


Shareholders of Rockwell International Corp. on Wednesday overwhelmingly approved the company's $3.2-billion sale of its defense and aerospace operations--once its core business--to Boeing Co.

Rockwell, which is also selling its Seal Beach complex to Boeing, is expected to reveal this month where it will relocate its headquarters and 400 employees who work there. The company has said only that it is looking for a site in Long Beach or Orange County.

The deal with Boeing, expected to close Friday, ends an era that saw Rockwell become a major government contractor that made the B-1 bomber and the space shuttle fleets. Rockwell will now consist of a commercial electronics unit in Newport Beach--the leading producer of computer modem semiconductors--and automotive, industrial automation, and aircraft navigation and communications units, all based in the Midwest.

"It's a major transformation of this company," Chairman Donald R. Beall said after the special shareholders meeting in New York. Beall charted the new course more than a decade ago.

In the last dozen years, he said, the company has cut its reliance on government contracts from 63% of its revenue to just 6%. At the same time, it has looked overseas for new commercial business, pushing that market from 13% of total sales to 43%.

Boeing, meantime, will create a Boeing North American division in Seal Beach and maintain the former Rockwell plants in Los Angeles and Orange counties and elsewhere in the nation. About 20,000 employees--and $2.6 billion worth of business--are transferring to Boeing. No layoffs are expected.

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