MDA Acquires Loral Space Satellite Unit

MDA’s Canadarm flew for the first time on Space Shuttle mission STS-2, Nov. 1981 (Credits: NASA).

MacDonald, Dettwile & Associates (MDA) has purchased Loral Space & Communications’ commercial satellite unit for $875 million, pending regulatory approval. The move gives the Canadian MDA an US base and transforms the company into a major player in commercial communications.

“This is a game changing transaction for our Company,” said Daniel Friedmann, MDA’s president and CEO. “With one move, we are bringing together two market leaders to create a unique global communications and information company with a strong commercial focus. Post-acquisition, more than two-thirds of MDA’s total revenues will come from the commercial market.”

MDA is the responsible for Canadarm2, the robotic arm aboard the International Space Station. To-date its primary customer had been the Canadian government, which had blocked prior attempts to sell its satellite division to Virginia-based Alliant Techsystems.

Loral currently employs 3,200 people. It has delivered more than 240 satellites over its 50 year history.

Loral will continue to operate under its current name and management from its California manufacturing facility. The combined company will be worth $1.9 billion in annual revenues. “Now that it has a manufacturing base, MDA should theoretically be able to bid on larger orders that they weren’t able to bid on before,” said Aubrey Hearn, a fund manager at Sentry Select Capital Corp. in Toronto, which manages C$7.5 billion in assets and holds MacDonald Dettwiler stock. “Before they were bidding on some contracts and they would just get the design part of the contract.”

“Space Systems/Loral’s business is fundamentally driven by the worldwide demand for television, digital audio, broadband Internet, mobile communications, and voice telephony,” said Friedmann. “Billions of people around the world depend on these services and demand continues to increase. By acquiring one of the major companies that enable these essential communications services, MDA will move immediately to the forefront of this growing business.”

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Merryl Azriel

Merryl Azriel

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Having wandered into professional writing and editing after a decade in engineering, science, and management, Merryl now enjoys reintegrating the dichotomy by bringing space technology and policy within reach of an interested public. After three years as Space Safety Magazine’s Managing Editor, Merryl semi-retired to Visiting Contributor and manager of the campaign to bring the International Space Station collaboration to the attention of the Nobel Peace Prize committee. She keeps her pencil sharp as Proposal Manager for U.S. government contractor CSRA.

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