Astrium is Acquiring Jena-Optronik Unit

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PARIS — Astrium GmbH of Germany is purchasing the space division of German opto-electronics group Jenoptik, Jena-Optronik GmbH, in a cash transaction following a competitive sales process in which Astrium outbid “several international aerospace companies,” Jenoptik and Astrium announced Oct. 4.

Financial details were not disclosed, but Jenoptik said the sale will enable it to reduce its net debt, which stood at 144 million euros ($196 million) on June 30, to less than 100 million euros after taking account of an earlier sale, for less than 10 million euros, of a minority stake in a Finnish company.

Jena, Germany-based Jena-Optronik reported about 30 million euros in revenue for 2009 and has 131 employees, all of whom will be kept on by Astrium, which will operate Jena-Optronik as a stand-alone business, much as it does with Tesat Spacecom of Germany and Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd. of Britain.

The transaction is subject to approval by European antitrust authorities.

Jena-Optronik builds satellite attitude-control systems and also provides the laser guidance system used for Europe’s Automated Transfer Vehicle, an unmanned freighter that supplies the international space station. Astrium GmbH is prime contractor for the vehicle.

“The acquisition of Jena-Optronik will complement Astrium’s optical expertise in Germany and enhance its reputation in the development and production of sophisticated Earth observation satellites,” Astrium said in a statement announcing the sale.

Evert Dudok, chief executive of Astrium Satellites, said the German government “invests considerably in observation satellites” and that the acquisition will enhance Astrium’s product offer in the sector.