Design Engineering

MDA to buy DigitalGlobe in $4.7 billion deal

The Canadian Press   

General Aerospace MDA

The new combined company will have more than 1,800 employees in Canada and about 4,600 in the United States.

MDA acquires Digital Global

Photo courtesy of MDA.

VANCOUVER — MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd. (MDA), Canada’s leader in space technology, will acquire Colorado-based DigitalGlobe, Inc. in a deal valued at about $4.7 billion (CAD), including debt.

Vancouver-based MDA has supplied robotics for the International Space Station, the Canadarm for the U.S. Space Shuttle program and satellite-based Earth imaging. The space tech company is offering cash and stock worth US$35 per share.

The combined company will have about 4,600 employees in the United States and will continue to employ more than 1,800 in Canada.

“Today’s announcement creates a new company that will lead the industry, offering space systems and imaging solutions from inception to execution, able to make design decisions with our customer’s needs in mind,” said Howard L. Lance, president and chief executive officer of MDA.


The MDA and DigitalGlobal boards have unanimously approved the deal and it’s expected to close in the second half of 2017, assuming the required approvals are reached, including sufficient shareholder support.

“This combination has the scale, resources and technology to serve the large and increasingly complex needs of government and commercial customers globally,” Lance said in a joint statement.

“The transaction is a major step forward in our previously announced U.S. Access Plan,” Lance added. “We are committed to serving the U.S. Government as a mission-critical partner with an expanded portfolio of end-to-end solutions. DigitalGlobe will operate as a stand-alone division under SSL MDA Holdings, in the same way as SSL and MDA’s Canadian businesses.”

DigitalGlobe’s president and CEO, Jeffrey Tarr, said that the deal with MDA will position his company “to reach its next phase of growth and provide greater opportunities for our team members by being part of a larger, more diversified company.”

MacDonald, Dettwiler says the combined company will provide a full range of space-related capabilities, including communications and Earth observation satellites, ground stations and robotics.

The offer, which is a combination of US$17.50 cash plus 0.3132 MDA share, values DigitalGlobe’s equity at $3.1 billion (US$2.4 billion). MDA will also assume about $1.6 billion (US$1.2 billion) of debt owed by DigitalGlobal.

The offer is slightly above DigitalGlobe’s stock price of US$34.05 at the end of trading Thursday, prior to the announcement. However, the companies say it’s 18 per cent above the stock’s Feb. 16 closing price, prior to speculation of a possible deal.


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