MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates (MDA), the spacecraft manufacturing conglomerate, has announced that it will be acquiring US-based Earth-imaging company DigitalGlobe for US$2.4 billion. MDA is a Canadian company with significant interests in the US, including its California-based satellite manufacturer subsidiary, Space Systems/Loral (SSL)
The deal, announced on 24 February, will include MDA taking on US$1.2 billion of DigitalGlobe debt. The boards of both companies have approved the deal, which is expected to be completed during the second half of the year.
This acquisition can be seen as a continuation of MDA’s “US Access Plan”: to integrate MDA businesses into the US market making them eligible for US government contracts. The plan also diversify’s MDA’s business into the more profitable service sector of the space market. Importantly DigitalGlobe, like SSL, will remain US-based. It will be put into the same MDA US-subsidiary as SSL, helping to ensure continued access to the vital government market. MDA also plans to list its shares on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), as well as the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX).
DigitalGlobe is a main supplier of Earth imagery to US government, defence and intelligence organisations via a contract it has with the US National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA). The firm originally entered into the EnhancedView Service Level Agreement with the NGA in 2010 by providing satellite imaging products to the agency. This agreement is worth US$2.8 billion over a 10-year period and counts for over 60 per cent of DigitalGlobe’s revenue.
DigitalGlobe’s low Earth orbit satellite fleet consists of the four WORLDVIEW spacecraft, the most recent of which, WORLDVIEW-4, was launched in November, 2016, and GEOEYE-1, launched in 2008 by GeoEye Inc, bought by DigitalGlobe in 2013. The firm is also planning a new series of satellites called WorldView Legion.