Skip to comments.MDA Tries to Salvage Asset Sale(Canada Blocks Shuttle Robotic Arm Sale to US Space Giant Alliant)
Posted on 04/30/2008 10:02:54 PM PDT by fight_truth_decay
Canadian robotic arm; Seeks to discuss decision by Ottawa to block deal.
MacDonald Dettwiler & Associates Ltd. said yesterday it's going on the offensive to try and salvage the $1.33- billion sale of one of its divisions to U.S. space giant Alliant Techsystems Inc.
MDA - designer of the Canadian robotic arm used by space shuttle astronauts - is asking this week to sit down with Industry Canada officials who blocked the sale to Alliant, or ATK.
MDA executives haven't met with Industry Minister Jim Prentice since the deal to create the U.S.'s fifth-largest space company was announced in January, sparking fears over the loss of Canadian-developed technology.
"First and foremost, the government's process is not completed. A conclusive decision has not been reached," said Paul Cooper, MDA's vice-president of strategic development.
"Secondly, MDA has not participated in the process and would like to do so," Cooper said, after speaking at a Canadian Aeronautics and Space Institute conference in Montreal. "There has been a lot of fear, uncertainty and doubt raised about what (happens) if the transaction goes forward.
"There's also the question of what happens if the transaction doesn't go forward. MDA has been looking at both of those sides of the coin and hopes that the government will engage with it to have a dialogue."
While Cooper said employees support the deal, some conference participants raised questions about how ITARs - U.S. security regulations that limit access to sensitive data to U.S. citizens - would affect MDA's Canadian employees.
"The issue is how would Canadian engineers work under the laws that they would have to be subject to in the United States," said Ken Ashworth, a veteran Canadian aerospace engineer.
Under the International Traffic in Arms Regulations, Americans would have access to Canadian technology, but not vice-versa, Ashworth noted.
"It's a one-way street at the moment," he said.
On April 10, Prentice nixed the transaction of MDA's information systems and geospatial service operations division, arguing he was not convinced that the deal was "likely to be of net benefit to Canada."
Alliant and MDA have until May 8 to challenge Prentice's decision, which was applauded by federal opposition parties.
The proposed sale to Minneapolis-based Alliant has sparked fears of losing access to the Radarsat-2 satellite developed by MDA, through $445 million in public support.
An MDA executive from Montreal said the satellite, which takes high resolution images, wouldn't be impacted by the deal.
"It's operated in Canada, at a Canadian station by Canadian people, under Canadian laws," said Marc Donato, vice-president and deputy general manager for MDA's Montreal branch.
"So unless the U.S. literally invades us and takes it over by force we have to do what the Canadian laws tell us."
Donato said he'd like to double his Montreal workforce of 340, but can't because of limited Canadian investment in space and U.S. rules that virtually bar foreign companies from bidding on contracts as Tier 1 suppliers.
"We've grown, but we cannot grow as fast. We're limited by the Canadian market which is shrinking and shrinking," he said.
"To get the big jobs, not just the smaller pieces of work, we need a U.S. owner."
"Brightspark is about the only seed/early stage private VC fund remaining in Toronto," Skapinker adds. "We have watched the Labour sponsored funds being decimated, other funds unable to raise monies or fleeing the market, the fund investor market shrink progressively over a number of years."
"The reality is that this is not just an Ontario or a Canadian issue. The VC industry is evolving and rationalizing itself on a global level. The only (relatively) healthy VC markets are Silicon Valley and Israel, each for their own reason. In Silicon Valley, you have an entire industry with an infrastructure, critical mass, momentum and a working system. With repeat entrepreneurs, startup culture, sophisticated investors and an industry round it, other areas have not been able to replicate this success. In Israel, you have the support of an economy and government along with great training, which is underpinned by entrepreneurs who understand that startups are the hugest growth area of its economy. This too cannot be repeated anywhere else."
"The US market has always been our curse and blessing in Canada on the one hand, we have access to this huge marketplace; on the other hand we dont have the underlying infrastructure to compete."
“So unless the U.S. literally invades us and takes it over by force we have to do what the Canadian laws tell us.”
Now there’s a thought.....;)
And the Canadian Government is savy. They will hold up the tech transfer , holding out for favorable prices on say, re-equipping the Canadian Military, and other high ticket military items. Mexico does it all the time in relation to "Oil".
I look forward to we Canadians excercising the ART of the deal. Of course that will set the Liberals to screaming blue bloody murder. But who gives a F..*?
All the liberals would do with the arm is open an automated coin operated masturbation parlor with it in Outremont, and try to franchise it exclusively to Liberals.
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