Summit Notebook

Exclusive outtakes from industry leaders

Revealed: Why ‘Conquerors of the Skies’ are homing on Wyoming

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There must be something about Wyoming at this time of year.

BRAZIL/Several participants at the Reuters Aerospace and Defense Summit held in Washington this week said they were heading out West — but declined to say what was taking them so far from hard-nosed airline investors and Pentagon accountants.

But the aviation head honchos tend to shy away from talking about it.

“I like Wyoming very much in the beginning of fall — a beautiful area,” was all we could get from one multinational corporation chief.

“It’s a meeting,” growled the head of a top engine maker.

To explain the rush, industry officials familiar with the matter suggested the curious should look no further than a venerable club known as the “Conquistadores del Cielo.”

Each year, according to people who have attended the event in the past, the ‘conquerors of the skies’ temporarily set aside their differences in one of the world’s most cut-throat industries and head to the Cowboy State for informal bonding.

AUDIO – Cash is king

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And for Boeing Co’s customers, saving cash is becoming increasingly important.

It’s long been one of the great mysteries of the defense game about whether companies that make a lot of the stuff used for defense and security, might be able to ratchet down their pricing when, economically at least, it was a rainy day.

AUDIO – Deal making is back! (Um, maybe…)

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There might not be the enthusiasm of a couple of years ago, but some deals in the defense sector might actually get done, according to Thomas Captain, head of Deloitte‘s aerospace and defense group.

Speaking at the annual Reuters Aerospace and Defense Summit in Washington, Captain said there were three possibbilities for deals that he sees in the near future.

AUDIO – Whither F-22?

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In a time of shrinking budgets and fears for the future, one of the biggest questions of this year’s Reuters Aerospace and Defense Summit was what will happen with the F-22 fighter jet that is made by Lockheed Grumman.

Lockheed Chief Executive Robert Stevens is really the guy we wanted to ask that question and he didn’t shrink from giving a pretty full defense of the jet.

AUDIO – Finding value in tough times

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Executives at this year’s Reuters Aerospace and Defense Summit almost uniformely said that finding critical, and rather immediate, value in mergers and acquisitions was especially important now in a climate of less money available for financing.

But opportunities do exist and can be found after careful hunting, said Alex Dorrian (heard first in this clip), CEO of Thales UK and executive vice president of International Operations for Thales Group worldwide, and Allan Cameron, chairman and CEO of Thales North America.

AUDIO – The costs of war

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Wars have numerous costs and most of those are unimaginable for most of us not in the middle of one.

But, aside from the tragic cost of death or injury, wars also cost a lot of money to finance and President-elect Barack Obama will be facing some of those costs (as well as a whole mess of other stuff) when he takes office in January.

AUDIO – Teddy Roosevelt had it right

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The world is a more dangerous place because of the global economic meltdown, according to Northrop Grumman Chief Executive Ronald Sugar, whose company provides specialized aircraft, radar and other electronics to meet that threat.

Sugar was the kick-off speaker at the annual Reuters Aerospace and Defense Summit on Monday in Washington, D.C.

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