Northrop Grumman Is Buying Orbital ATK for about $7.8 billion
Defense giant Northrop Grumman Corp. is acquiring aerospace and defense firm Orbital ATK Inc. for about $7.8 billion in cash, a deal that would boost Northrop Grumman's presence in the space, launch and missile industries.
Orbital shareholders are to receive $134.50 per share in cash, a 22.2% premium over Friday's closing price. Northrop Grumman is to assume $1.4 billion in net debt. The deal, which is still subject to regulatory approval as well as approval by Orbital shareholders, is expected to close in the first half of 2018.
Orbital, based in Dulles, Va., makes rocket motors that power missiles, and it designs and produces target launch vehicles that are used to test missile defense systems.
The company also makes the interceptor boosters for the U.S. Ground-based Midcourse Defense system, the nation's primary protection against a missile strike.
Northrop Grumman -- along with competitor Boeing Co. -- was recently chosen by the Air Force to continue work on designs for a new intercontinental ballistic missile system known as the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent program.
"Through our combination, customers will benefit from expanded capabilities, accelerated innovation and greater competition in critical global security domains," Northrop Grumman Chief Executive Wes Bush said in a statement.
On the space side, Orbital has a NASA contract to ferry supplies via its Antares rocket to the International Space Station [pictured above].
It has also developed the Pegasus, a smaller rocket that can be attached to the belly of the company's Stargazer L-1011 airplane and launched while the plane is in flight.
Orbital plans to add more capabilities to its lineup with its first intermediate and heavy-lift rockets, known for now as the Next Generation Launcher, or NGL.
The NGL rockets are still being developed, but Orbital hopes to eventually get them certified by the U.S. Air Force to compete for lucrative national security launch contracts.
Northrop Grumman, based in Falls Church, Va., is known for building aircraft such as the B-2 bomber, as well as unmanned aerial vehicles such as the Global Hawk surveillance craft.
In 2015, the defense company won a contract to build the next generation of stealth bombers known as the B-21.
Northrop Grumman is also constructing the James Webb Space Telescope, an $8.8-billion spacecraft with a 21-foot-diameter mirror that is set to capture the oldest light in the universe.
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