From politicians to antiwar activists, Raytheon-United Technologies merger remains a hot topic
Days after the proposed merger between Waltham-based Raytheon Co. and United Technologies Corp. was announced, Massachusetts business leaders, lawmakers, and even antiwar activists are still weighing in on what the combined company might mean for Massachusetts.
If approved by regulators, the deal would create a defense and aerospace behemoth called Raytheon Technologies Corp. with $74 billion in projected annual revenue and a headquarters somewhere in the Boston area.
Christopher Anderson, president of the Massachusetts High Technology Council said the proposed merger shows that efforts to make the state more inviting to business are paying off — and should continue at full speed.
“It just means there’s an obligation for us to support and preserve the conditions for investment and job growth in Massachusetts,” Anderson said.
Part of the appeal of Massachusetts to a large company is its many colleges and universities, which produce a steady supply of talented STEM graduates each year, said Peter Abair, executive director of nonprofit MassEcon. On top of the existing local talent pool, the state also attracts skilled graduates from out of state, largely because of the many technology and life sciences companies based here, he said.
“It’s a perfect storm, in a good way, in terms of the workforce being able to meet the future needs of a combined Raytheon Technologies,” Abair said.
But for other stakeholders, things aren’t as clean cut.
State Senator Eric Lesser, an East Longmeadow Democrat, said he wonders how a Raytheon Technologies headquarters based in Greater Boston might affect his First Hampden and Hampshire District. Lesser said some of his constituents work for United Technologies in Connecticut. He worries the merger could move some jobs from Western New England to the Boston area.
“You could be robbing Peter to pay Paul,” he said.
Antiwar activists who oppose Raytheon’s controversial weapons sales to Saudi Arabia are wary of the merger, fearing the combined company will have even greater clout.
“This industry got started to defend our country,” said Cole Harrison, executive director of Massachusetts Peace Action. “But lately, our country has been shipping arms around the world without a lot of criteria.”
Groups who advocate for Massachusetts to divest its pension funds from Raytheon and other companies that sell weapons to Saudi Arabia said the merger would enable the defense giant to continue profiteering from war.
Some Massachusetts lawmakers — including Democratic representatives Mike Connolly and Denise Provost — have backed legislation aimed at preventing the state from investing its pension funds in companies that sell weapons to Saudi Arabia.
In an earnings call last fall, Raytheon vice president Anthony F. O’Brien said business with Saudi Arabia accounted for about 5 percent of the company’s revenue in 2018 as of October of that year. The company has an office in the Saudi capital of Riyadh.
So far, shareholders in the two companies have not been excited about the deal, but that could change, said John Bach, Quaker chaplain at Harvard University and an opponent of weapons sales to Saudi Arabia.
“When Raytheon and United Technologies merge, they’re going to be more powerful and able to get more lucrative contracts from the Pentagon for their shareholders,” Bach said.