Germany’s MAN Group has agreed to sell its MAN Technologie AG subsidiary, a builder of Ariane 5 rocket components, to space-systems contractor OHB Technology AG and investment company Apollo Capital Partners GmbH for an undisclosed price, MAN and OHB announced June 1.
For Munich-based MAN Group, selling off MAN Technologie, of Augsburg, Germany, has been a long-held goal as the company streamlines its business to focus on its core competencies, which include diesel engines, commercial trucks and printing systems. The company had threatened to shut down the money-losing division in 2004 but subsequently kept the business running as it continued to search for a buyer.
MAN Technologie builds Ariane 5 rocket strap-on booster casings and the front skirt for the rocket’s upper stage. It has been struggling with that business since the more-profitable Ariane 4 rocket, Ariane 5’s predecessor, was retired. In addition, the company operates a launch-support facility at Europe’s Guiana Space Center spaceport in French Guiana. MAN Technologie also has a 7.75 percent share of the Arianespace commercial launch consortium.
MAN Technologie sales in 2004 were 117 million euros ($146 million). It reported an operating loss of 6 million euros. In recent months, the company has reduced its work force to about 450 people from nearly 800 in 2003.
MAN officials have repeatedly said they saw no way to remain in the business without additional government support even if MAN Technologie returned to profitability following a large Ariane 5 rocket order and a costly restructuring in 2003 and 2004.
OHB-Technology, based in Bremen, Germany, builds small government scientific and Earth observation satellites and is prime contractor for Germany’s SAR-Lupe radar reconnaissance spacecraft.
OHB said in a statement that it expects MT Aerospace’s business, both in Ariane 5 components and in providing tank systems for the aviation industry, to grow.
Munich-based Apollo Capital Partners and OHB declined to discuss their respective ownership stakes in MAN Technologie, whose name will now change to MT Aerospace AG. Apollo Capital was founded by Hans Steininger, who is vice chairman of OHB’s supervisory board. OHB said in a June 1 statement that Steininger will take a management post at MT Aerospace, and give up his OHB board seat.