(Bloomberg) -- Safran SA is in talks to acquire an arm of Raytheon Technologies Corp. that makes products including flight controls, in what could be its biggest purchase in six years. 

The French aerospace company is discussing a deal to buy “certain flight control and actuation activities” from Raytheon as part of a competitive bidding process, it said in a statement Monday that confirmed an earlier Bloomberg News report.

Safran is in advanced negotiations over a transaction that could value the business at about $1 billion, people with knowledge of the matter said, asking not to be identified discussing confidential information. It’s been competing with several private equity suitors, they said.

Shares in Safran were relatively unchanged in Paris on Tuesday, giving the company a market value of €58.4 billion ($62.4 billion). Raytheon has a market value of $140 billion.

Bloomberg News reported in January that Arlington, Virginia-based Raytheon was exploring a sale of the unit. The purchase would rank as Safran’s biggest deal since its 2017 agreement to buy plane-seat supplier Zodiac Aerospace SA for nearly €9 billion including debt, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. 

A deal could compete with Safran’s potential for share buybacks, Jefferies Financial Group Inc. analyst Chloe Lemarie wrote in a note Monday. Lemarie said Raytheon’s actuation business was likely low margin because of its “build to print” model and low aftermarket sales.

“Safran may still be interested, as it could generate some synergies with its equipment business, by integrating these mechanical actuators capabilities into its flight control systems,” Lemarie wrote.

Safran and its 83,000 employees build everything from engines to landing gear, infrared binoculars to drones and overhead bins to lavatories, according to its website. Adding flight control assets could help the Paris-based company sell further products for the equipment and defense business, which currently accounts for almost 40% of its total revenue of more than €19 billion.

There’s no certainty discussions between Raytheon and Safran will result in a deal, the French company said in Monday’s statement, without disclosing any terms. A representative for Raytheon declined to comment.

Raytheon, led by Chief Executive Officer Gregory Hayes, consists of Pratt & Whitney, Collins Aerospace and a large defense portfolio spanning missiles, space systems and intelligence products. The actuation business sits within Collins, having first been a division of Rockwell Collins and then United Technologies prior to its merger with Raytheon, which closed in 2020.

--With assistance from Albertina Torsoli.

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