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Maxar Surges on $770 Million Deal to Sell MDA to Investment Firm

Doug Alexander
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Maxar Surges on $770 Million Deal to Sell MDA to Investment Firm

(Bloomberg) -- Maxar Technologies Inc. rallied after it agreed to sell its Canadian space and defense unit MDA to a consortium led by Northern Private Capital for C$1 billion ($770 million) to help pay down debt and prioritize investments in core businesses.

The sale includes all of MDA’s Canadian businesses, including ground stations, radio satellite products, robotics, defense and satellite components, and represents 1,900 employees, the Westminster, Colorado-based company said Monday in a statement.

Shares of Maxar jumped as much as 23% Monday, to the highest since November 2018. The deal value is “reasonable” and will allow the company to focus on its core imagery business, said Stephanie Price, an analyst at CIBC, in a research report.

MDA will operate as a standalone company within the portfolio of Toronto-based Northern Private Capital, retaining its name, and will continue to supply Maxar with certain components and subsystems. MDA was the builder of Canadarm2, the robotic arm that has served the International Space Station since 2001, according to the Canadian Space Agency.

“The sale of MDA furthers execution on the company’s near-term priority of reducing debt and leverage,” Maxar Chief Executive Officer Dan Jablonsky said in the statement. “It also provides increased flexibility, range, and focus to take advantage of substantial growth opportunities across Earth Intelligence and Space Infrastructure categories.”

The MDA businesses are expected to generate approximately $370 million in revenue and $85 million in adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization in 2019. The revenue includes $78 million of inter-company sales to other Maxar entities. The sale is conditional on regulatory approvals and reviews in Canada and the U.S.

Northern Private is an investment firm led by John Risley and Andrew Lapham. The acquisition is being financed with equity and debt, with equity provided by NPC and certain limited partners as well as investors including former BlackBerry Ltd. co-CEO Jim Balsillie and Senvest Capital.

“Over its 50-year history, MDA has grown from a B.C.-based start-up into a world-class space technology company and an anchor of Canada’s space program,” Risley said in a separate statement. “As a Canadian, I am so proud this iconic Canadian company will once again be owned and controlled in Canada.”

(Updates with comments from CIBC in the third paragraph.)

--With assistance from Aoyon Ashraf.

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