MANATEE -- The 180 employees of Eaton Corp., which manufactures products for aerospace and industrial customers, could soon have a different company signing their paychecks.
Eaton has announced an agreement to sell its Manatee County Aerospace Power Distribution Management Solutions business to the French aerospace, defense and security company Safran, for $270 million, said Kelly W. Jasko, the spokeswoman for Eaton's industrial sector. The sale also includes the Eaton facility in Costa Mesa, Calif.
The agreement includes Eaton's Integrated Cockpit Solutions business, Jasko said.
Asked about the status of the 180 local employees who work at the Manatee plant at 2250 Whitfield Ave., Jasko said, "It's too early to speculate on things that are further down the road."
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The sale is subject to approval from Eaton's board as well as regulatory approvals.
"I think everyone is working through this slowly," Jasko added.
The 180 local employees make circuit protection devices, power distribution and switch components and sub-systems for their industrial and aerospace customers.
They also make illuminated switches, cockpit panel assemblies, pilot controls and passenger safety unit latches for their aerospace customers.
Sales were approximately $102 million in 2013, Jasko said.
The two companies are expected to close the deal in the first half of 2014, according to news releases from both firms.
There are 170 Eaton employees in Costa Mesa, Calif., who manufacture roughly the same products as in Manatee County, Jasko said.
Safran indicated that it decided to buy these two Eaton businesses partly to get more into the market of "electric aircraft."
"The acquisition of the Integrated Cockpit Solutions business allows Safran to bolster ... North American presence in avionics and flight controls," a release states. "It brings recognized expertise in panels and displays, including illuminated switches and cockpit controls."
Eaton is essentially a power
management company that helps its customers effectively manage their electrical, hydraulic and mechanical power needs, Jasko said.
Eaton acquired Cooper Industries in November 2012.
The 2012 revenue of the combined companies was $21.8 billion on a pro forma basis, Jasko said.
Eaton has about 102,000 employees and sells products to customers in more than 175 countries.
"The sale of this business is consistent with Eaton's long-term strategy to grow the aerospace business by focusing on its core competencies of hydraulics, fuel, conveyance, motion control and engine solutions, areas where we are an industry leader," said Uday Yadav, president of Eaton's Aerospace Group.
Eaton has had to lay off employees at its Manatee County plant several times in the last decade.
In 2004, the company cut 17 jobs, according to Herald archives.
In 2009, 24 employees were laid off as part of a cost-saving measure, according to Herald archives.
At that time, the company had about 250 employees.
Richard Dymond, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7072 or contact him via Twitter @ RichardDymond.