Oshkosh Unfazed by Defense Cuts — Icahn’s Bid is Another Story

Photograph by Oshkosh via Bloomberg News

An Oshkosh Corp. M-ATV vehicle.

Alarm bells aren’t ringing at Oshkosh Corp. over automatic spending cuts set to begin early next year, the head of the company’s defense unit says

“We’re not overconfident, but we’re not panicking either,” John M. Urias, president of Oshkosh Defense, said during an interview today at an annual Army conference in Washington.

The company, based in the Wisconsin city of the same name, has already felt the pinch as military demand for its blast-resistant trucks has slowed. The budget cuts, known as sequestration, would take about $500 billion from national-security programs over a decade.

Urias’s division is focusing on existing military contracts and finding new business opportunities in the U.S. and abroad, especially in the Middle East.

“Oshkosh is here for the long haul,” said Urias, who spoke at the Association of the U.S. Army event.

Another threat may be looming larger for Oshkosh: Carl Icahn.

The billionaire activist investor is Oshkosh’s largest shareholder and has offered to buy the manufacturer for about $3 billion, or $32.50 a share.

Urias declined to discuss Icahn or his proposal.

Icahn, who has criticized the firm’s executives for poor performance, plans to release his full slate of director nominees this week.

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