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Exclusive-General Electric, L3Harris among suitors vying for Aerojet -sources

World Artificial Intelligence Conference in Shanghai

By Mike Stone and David Carnevali

(Reuters) - Industrial conglomerate General Electric Co and defense contractor L3Harris Technologies Inc are among those competing to acquire rocket maker Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings Inc, according to people familiar with the matter.

Aircraft producer Textron Inc and private equity firm Veritas Capital are also vying to acquire El Segundo, California-based Aerojet, which has a market value of about $4 billion, the sources said.

Aerojet has been running a process to sell itself after its $4.4 billion sale to Lockheed Martin Corp was thwarted by antitrust regulators in February, Reuters has previously reported. If the negotiations conclude successfully, a deal could be inked by the end of December, the sources added, cautioning that no agreement was certain.

Aerojet does not see in the line-up of bidders the antitrust issues that led to the demise of its deal with Lockheed, because none of the suitors are direct competitors or share much of the same supply chain, one of the sources said.

The sources requested anonymity because the matter is confidential.

"We regularly assess multiple options as we pursue game-changing solutions for our customers," an L3 Harris spokesperson said, declining to comment specifically on the company's pursuit of Aerojet. Spokespeople for Aerojet, General Electric, Textron and Veritas Capital did not respond to requests for comment.

Aerojet develops and manufactures liquid and solid rocket propulsion and hypersonic engines for space, defense, civil and commercial applications. Its customers include the Pentagon, Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Raytheon Technologies Corp.

The company prevailed in a battle for control of its board against former Executive Chairman Warren Lichtenstein last summer but remains under pressure to boost its performance. Activist hedge fund Elliott Investment Management disclosed it had accumulated a 3.7% stake in Aerojet in August.

(Reporting by Mike Stone in Washington and David Carnevali in New York; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)