Canadarm maker fetches $1.3-billion
JANET MCFARLAND AND WENDY STUECK Globe and Mail Update January 8, 2008 at 9:13 PM EST Article Link
MacDonald Dettwiler and Associates Ltd., the company behind the iconic Canadarm, is selling its space and satellite business to a U.S. buyer, betting its future on the far more terrestrial but profitable world of real estate data.
Although best known as a manufacturer of space products for NASA, the company says its lower-profile software operations – which track land titles, insurance and mortgages – are faster growing and have greater global potential.
MDA said it agreed to sell its space and satellite operations to Alliant Techsystems Inc. of Edina, Minn., for $1.325-billion in cash, and said it will use most of the proceeds to invest in acquisitions in the United States, Europe and Canada to build its now core information systems business.
Based in Richmond, B.C., MDA has been Canada's premier space manufacturing company for almost 30 years and is a granddaddy of Vancouver's high-technology scene, whose alumni have gone on to start and run other noted Vancouver technology companies. MDA co-founder and former chief executive officer John MacDonald, who left MDA in 1998, has called the company “the epicentre of the Canadian space industry.”
Tuesday, Mr. MacDonald said the sale was the right decision, “but emotionally, it was very difficult for them.”
He said the space group needed a new owner to keep playing in the big leagues in the huge U.S. space industry. “There is more work to be done, but not in Canada. Canada's a small economy. You can argue until hell freezes over about whether Canada should be spending money on a space program.”More on link