Artist's render of MethaneSAT Credit: Ball Aerospace Corp.

TITUSVILLE, Fla. — BAE Systems will complete its $5.5 billion acquisition of Ball Aerospace in days after securing regulatory approvals for the deal.

The companies announced Feb. 14 that they had all the approvals in place from regulators to complete the deal, announced in August. All that remains are the “customary steps at the end of a transaction,” said Tom Arseneault, president and chief executive of BAE Systems Inc., in an interview. “We’re hoping to complete that in the coming days.”

The Department of Justice had issued a second request for information to the companies about the proposed acquisition in November. “The approval that we received today is an early termination of that second request on the basis of their examination of the portfolios,” he said, concluding “there was not an antitrust concern.”

The companies previously received a “standard approval” for the acquisition from the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, as BAE Systems is based in the United Kingdom. “We received that in the typical timeframe,” Arseneault said.

Once the deal closes, Ball Aerospace will become a fourth operating sector of BAE Systems Inc., called Space & Mission Systems. It will incorporate Ball Aerospace’s more than 5,200 employees and its Colorado manufacturing facility.

It will continue its existing work in civil and national security space programs, ranging from the Weather System Follow-on – Microwave (WSF-M) weather satellite for the U.S. Space Force that Ball is preparing for launch in late March to NASA’s Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope, the agency’s next flagship space telescope.

Dave Kaufman, president of Ball Aerospace who will lead the Space & Mission Systems unit, said that being part of BAE will allow it to go after larger programs. “BAE has different expertise than we do,” he said, such as electronics and other subsystems. “It gives us the ability to move up the food chain and be contributing in bigger ways.”

Arseneault highlighted the buying power the combined company will have, allowing the Space and Mission Systems sector “to tap into our global supply agreements and thereby reduce their materials costs and generate some synergy through that.”

Kaufman said the deal opens up new possibilities for Ball Aerospace’s employees. “They see the possibility that we can move into new areas, engage with new customers, even internationally, as we work to grow our business,” he said. “It means that there are career advancement possibilities that we never had before.”

Both companies are pressing ahead despite uncertainty about final budgets for fiscal year 2024 from the federal government, their largest customer. Agencies continue to operate on a continuing resolution that funds programs at 2023 levels until early March.

“The entire industry is watching that and is concerned,” Arseneault said. “As long as things resolve in the near term, the impact will be manageable, but it is something we are continuing to watch.”

“Our situation is similar,” Kaufman said. “We’re all in the same boat in the whole industry, watching the budget and hoping we come to a resolution.”

Jeff Foust writes about space policy, commercial space, and related topics for SpaceNews. He earned a Ph.D. in planetary sciences from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a bachelor’s degree with honors in geophysics and planetary science...