KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — Satellite and space-services provider MDA on Oct. 3 moved to further burnish its new identity as an American company fully eligible to win U.S. government contracts, naming new directors with U.S. military credentials and moving its headquarters to San Francisco from Richmond, British Columbia.
The company reiterated that it expects to complete the transition and secure U.S. security clearances by the end of the year.
The newly created holding company, called SSL MDA Holdings Inc., will be registered in Delaware, with its operational headquarters in San Francisco. MDA’s Canadian presence, to remain a publicly traded company in Canada, will be based in Vancouver.
SSL MDA Holdings named retired U.S. Air Force Gen. C. Robert Kehler, a former commander of U.S. Strategic Command, to its board. Also named was Joanne O. Isham, a former deputy director of the U.S. National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency and director of legislative affairs at the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office.
“Their skills, experience and advice will be invaluable as we implement our U.S. Access Plan strategy to more effectively serve the U.S. government space markets and customers,” MDA Chief Executive Howard L. Lance said in a statement. Lance, a U.S. citizen, assumed his post in May and will be based in San Francisco.
SSL MDA Holdings’ biggest operating asset is satellite builder Space Systems Loral (SSL) of Palo Alto, California. SSL has been a successful seller of large commercial telecommunications satellites. SSL recently has broadened its portfolio to produce smaller spacecraft — notably with a bulk satellite order from Terra Bella, the Google-owned geospatial imagery provider.
But SSL has struggled to establish a footing in the U.S. government market, and company officials have said part of the reason for this is its Canadian passport.
The new entity should resolve these issues. Whether SSL’s status in the eyes of Export Development Canada (EDC), which is Canada’s export-credit agency, remains to be seen. EDC has said that as a subsidiary of a Canadian company, SSL is also considered Canadian. SSL customers thus can seek EDC loan support. The importance of EDC has risen in the past year as the U.S. Export-Import Bank has been closed for business for large transactions. U.S. Congressional opposition to Ex-Im has prevented the bank from filling an empty board seat needed to reach a quorum.
In its announcement, SSL MDA Holdings said William D. McCombe had been appointed chief financial officer and treasurer at SSL MDA Holdings. He is the former senior vice president for strategy and finance at SSL.
Anil Wirasekawa, MDA’s long-time chief financial officer, will retain that title for the publicly traded MDA in Canada and will be based in Vancouver, the company said.