MDA prepares for IPO
March 24, 2021
By Chris Forrester
Canada’s MDA, the satellite builder formerly known as MacDonald, Dettwiler & Assoc – but perhaps better known as the builders of the Space Shuttle’s sophisticated ‘Canadarm’ robotic crane and still used on the International Space Station – is mounting an IPO.
MDA, founded in 1969 (by Dr John MacDonald and Vern Dettwiler) also helped build the very first Canadian satellites (the ANIK series) and more recently developing space expertese on robotic ‘rescue tug’ missions. It has its equipment and hardware on more than 350 space-related missions.
It now looks to secure a float and a listing on the Toronto stock exchange with shares on offer in the C$16-C$20 range and which should raise around C$500 million (€422.5m). Some C$340 million will be used to repay borrowings with the balance being invested in ongoing growth initiatives, says the company’s prospectus.
However, the company’s recent history is complex. The Ontario-based firm renamed itself Maxar Technologies in 2017 with Maxar selling its Canadian space and defence assets to a Toronto-based private equity firm in a deal which closed last year in April.
MDA now says that it is targeting some $2 billion in revenues from its new Synthetic Aparture Radar (SARnext) over the next 15 years and with anticipated growth rising from last year’s a US$411 million to US$800-$900 million in 2022 and US$1.5 billion by 2025.
It currently has contracts in place to supply antennas for Telesat’s Lightspeed constellation which could grow significantly in value from today’s US$800 million or so for 300 satellites to a much larger value if Telesat decides to expand the orbiting fleet to 1600 satellites.