Maxar commercial satellite imagery collected May 12, 2022, shows the aftermath of recent Russian attacks that damaged the Grande Pettine hotel, located on the beach by the Black Sea. Additional damage is seen at several buildings at the Odesa airport reportedly caused by Russian missile strikes. Credit: Maxar Technologies

WASHINGTON — Maxar Technologies, a space company that gained global attention with its high-resolution satellite images of the Ukraine war, is being acquired by the private equity firm Advent International for $6.4 billion.

Under the deal announced Dec. 16, Advent is acquiring all outstanding shares of Maxar common stock for $53.00 per share in cash, more than double Maxar’s stock price of $23.10 on December 15, the company’s last full trading day as a public company. The acquisition is expected to be completed in mid-2023.

Advent International, based in Boston, Massachusetts, is a global firm with $89 billion in assets. Maxar is headquartered in Westminster, Colorado, 

The acquisition will help Maxar “to accelerate investment in and development of the company’s next-generation satellite technologies and data insights for its customers,” the company said in a statement. 

Maxar, with an estimated $2 billion in revenue for 2022, will remain a U.S.-controlled and operated company. The company is the U.S. government’s primary supplier of satellite imagery and in May secured a $3.2 billion agreement with the National Reconnaissance Office to provide imagery over the next 10 years. 

Separately from its satellite imaging business, Maxar also operates a satellite factory in Palo Alto, California, a business that delivered more than 100 large geostationary communications satellites over the past three decades but has faced headwinds from declining commercial orders and has been pursuing defense and intelligence contracts.

As a private company, Maxar said, it will be better positioned to successfully deploy a $600 million next-generation WorldView Legion imaging constellation, a program that has been plagued by delays.

With approximately $28 billion invested across the defense, security and cybersecurity sectors in the last three years, Advent’s portfolio companies have substantial expertise supporting many satellite and defense platforms which serve the U.S. government and its allies as well as companies across the globe,” the company said. 

Daniel Jablonsky, president and CEO of Maxar, called the $6.4 billion acquisition “an exceptional outcome for stockholders” and a validation of the company’s products and reputation.

“As a private company, we will be able to move faster, including in next generation satellite technologies,” Jablonsky told SpaceNews Dec. 16.

He said Advent wants to accelerate the deployment of WorldView Legion seven and eight after the initial six satellites are in orbit. Under the previous plan, “we wouldn’t have started spending on them until the tail end of 2024, maybe the beginning of 2025,” he said. “This allows us to go faster and get those birds up sooner for our customers.”

Jablonsky said Advent also is committed to the satellite manufacturing business. “That’s been part of the turnaround story here at Maxar,” he said, noting the company recently received orders for two new Sirius XM satellites. “We are excited about continuing to do that.”

David Mussafer, chairman and managing partner of Advent, said Maxar is a “uniquely positioned and attractive asset in satellite manufacturing and space-based high-resolution imagery, with an incredible workforce and many opportunities ahead.”

Maxar became a U.S. corporation about two years ago when the company spun off the Canadian subsidiary MDA.  The Canadian firm MDA purchased the Palo Alto-based satellite manufacturer Space Systems Loral in 2012 and in 2017 acquired the Westminster-based Earth-imaging firm DigitalGlobe. The combined companies were rebranded Maxar Technologies in 2018, and MDA was sold off in 2020.

Sandra Erwin writes about military space programs, policy, technology and the industry that supports this sector. She has covered the military, the Pentagon, Congress and the defense industry for nearly two decades as editor of NDIA’s National Defense...