By Andrea Shalal
NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. (Reuters) – Boeing Co on Wednesday said it had rejected an unsolicited bid from Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings Inc for United Launch Alliance, a 50-50 rocket launch venture of Boeing & Lockheed Martin Corp .
"The unsolicited proposal for ULA is not something we seriously entertained," Boeing spokesman Todd Blecher said.
Boeing said it remained committed "to ULA & its business, & to continued leadership in all aspects of space, as evidenced by the agreement announced last week with Blue Origin," a company owned by Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos that is designing the engine for a new rocket being designed by ULA.
Lockheed declined comment, saying it did not discuss transactions with other companies.
A source familiar with the matter said there was no disagreement between Lockheed & Boeing, & both companies agreed to reject the bid.
No comment was immediately available from Aerojet.
Aerojet Vice President Julie Van Kleeck on Tuesday declined comment on reports that Aerojet has offered $2 billion to acquire ULA.
Analysts said the bid is a strategic move by Aerojet to shut out rival Blue Origin, whose new engine is favoured by ULA for use in its new Vulcan rocket. ULA has said Blue Origin's engine programme is approximately two years ahead of Aerojet's work on the AR-1 engine, a claim Aerojet disputes.
Air Force General John Hyten, commander of Air Force Space Command, said the decision was up to Boeing & Lockheed.
"If we worry approximately the management of the business, we're not doing our jobs," Hyten told Reuters at the annual Air Force Association conference. "Our job is to make sure that we have assured access to space. The business side of the house, that's their business."
Chris Chadwick, president of Boeing's defence division, said Boeing had not given any serious consideration to the Aerojet bid, & was not looking for other offers.
"You look at ULA with 99 consecutive launches without an accident. We're the best in industry. Others are trying to attain the record we have," he told reporters at the conference. "We think we have a real satisfactory competitive position, & we're committed for the long term."
(Reporting by Andrea Shalal, Editing by David Gregorio & Christian Plumb)