Canada rejects ATK bid for MDA

Official fears deal won't benefit nation

April 11, 2008|By Andrea K. Walker | Andrea K. Walker,Sun reporter

The Canadian government has rejected a $1.32 billion bid by Alliant Techsystems Inc., which has a large Maryland presence, to purchase the space and radar business of MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates.

"I am not satisfied that your investment is likely to be of net benefit to Canada," Canadian Industry Minister Jim Prentice wrote in an April 8 letter to Alliant.

The letter did not say why the Canadian government did not see the deal as beneficial to the country. Alliant, better known by its NYSE ticker, ATK, has 30 days to provide the Canadian government with more information.

An ATK spokesman said the company was in talks with the Canadian government but wouldn't give specifics.

"We are in ongoing discussions with the Canadian government," said the spokesman, Bryce Hallowell.

The acquisition of MDA Information Systems and Geospatial Services would be the biggest ever for ATK. The company's new business would include space-based radar systems, space robotics, satellite systems and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities.

At the time it announced it was buying MDA, ATK president and CEO Daniel J. Murphy told The Sun the company was scouting a location for the new combined space headquarters in Maryland.

Yesterday, the company said it had not yet decided where the headquarters would be.

ATK, which has its headquarters in Edina, Minn., would become the fifth-largest space systems company in North America and nearly double its international revenue if it merged with MDA, Murphy told The Sun in January.

ATK has more than 2,000 employees in Maryland, including 600 at a rocket motor manufacturing plant in Elkton. It is the largest manufacturer of solid-fuel rocket motors.

Last year, ATK moved its Mission Systems Group headquarters to Canton. It also recently purchased Swales Aerospace, a Beltsville firm that specializes in satellite systems for NASA, commercial customers and the Department of Defense.

The MDA divisions that ATK is trying to acquire have revenue of about $500 million and employ 1,900, including 145 in Rockville.

MDA is the builder of Canadarm, the robotic limb used on the space shuttle and on the International Space Station, as well as Dextre robotics and the Radarsat 2 satellite, a remote-sensing satellite that allows observation of Canada's Arctic. Canadian lawmakers from all parties said at hearings in Ottawa this month that they were concerned the technology may become subject to U.S. national security laws and that Canada may lose its priority with Radarsat, which it uses to monitor contested Arctic waterways.

andrea.walker@baltsun.com

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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