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MacDonald, Dettwiler acquires US satellite firm for $875 million

Vancouver company best known for making robotic arms used on International Space Station.


June 27, 2012
by The Canadian Press

VANCOUVER: MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd. will pay US$875 million for a California-based company that will boost the Canadian space hardware maker’s role as a supplier of commercial communications satellites.

The Vancouver-area company says the addition of Space Systems/Loral Inc. will give it a critical mass in the US market and global opportunities for growth.

“This is a game changing transaction for our company,” Daniel Friedmann, MDA’s president and CEO, said in announcing the deal.

MacDonald, Dettwiler is best known as the maker of the robotic arms used on the International Space Station and the now-retired US space shuttles.

It had attempted to sell its satellite division several years ago to US defence contractor Alliant Techsystems of Edina, Minn., but was blocked from doing so by the Harper government, which cited national security reasons.

MDA has also been involved in a variety of businesses that use satellites to collect information from space. It warned in March that the federal budget didn’t include the money needed to advance that Radarsat Constellation Mission as envisaged.

“Combining the world-recognized communications capabilities of MDA with SS/L creates a powerful space communications leader and enhances the business prospects, both commercial and government, for each of MDA and SS/L,” said Michael B. Targoff, chief executive officer of Loral Space & Communications.

©The Canadian Press