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Status of ULA sale offer, as seen by bankers

Link here. The article outlines the perspective of the banking community to the sale, relative to the three potential known purchasers, Blue Origin, Cerberus, and Textron.

[M]ost contended that a deal should have been finalized years ago, as SpaceX now dominates the global rocket launch market and has grabbed share from ULA’s best customer, the U.S. military. The sticky part of a sale, those bankers said, is the need for new ownership that can both streamline ULA and invest in further innovation.

The price is another sticking point: Bankers suggested ULA’s owners initially sought more than $4 billion for the company, but the consensus of a reasonable winning bid was in the range of $2 billion to $2.5 billion. As one banker emphasized to me, there’s more competition among heavy launch vehicles like Vulcan today than there was a decade ago, and the rocket’s only just getting going now.

First, it appears that Textron has already dropped out. Second, the reason the sale was delayed was solely the fault of Blue Origin, as delays in delivering its BE-4 rocket engine to ULA caused the first launch of the Vulcan rocket to be delayed years. The sale couldn’t happen until that rocket was proven flightworthy.

The analysis between Blue Origin and Cerberus makes it hard picking either as the likely winner. It suggests that while Blue Origin, as a rocket company, might be able to more quickly take advanage of the ULA’s assets, Cerberus would be a better managerial fit, more able to trim the fat and make ULA more competitive. For sure, Blue Origin shows no ability to trim fat or work fast.

The bankers also indicated a dark horse could still appear.

Hat tip to BtB’s stringer Jay.

Genesis cover

On Christmas Eve 1968 three Americans became the first humans to visit another world. What they did to celebrate was unexpected and profound, and will be remembered throughout all human history. Genesis: the Story of Apollo 8, Robert Zimmerman's classic history of humanity's first journey to another world, tells that story, and it is now available as both an ebook and an audiobook, both with a foreword by Valerie Anders and a new introduction by Robert Zimmerman.

The ebook is available everywhere for $5.99 (before discount) at amazon, or direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit. If you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and the author gets a bigger cut much sooner.

The audiobook is also available at all these vendors, and is also free with a 30-day trial membership to Audible.

"Not simply about one mission, [Genesis] is also the history of America's quest for the moon... Zimmerman has done a masterful job of tying disparate events together into a solid account of one of America's greatest human triumphs."--San Antonio Express-News


  • pzatchok

    Blue Origin is the only possible buyer.

    Could be why they slow walked the engine delivery. Drop the price by 2 billion is a good incentive.

  • Richard M

    If Tim Farrar is to be believed, maybe Blue Origin really does have the inside track now.

    And in a lot of ways, a ULA-Blue Origin merger makes sense, and has made sense for some time now. I’m intrigued by Farrar’s suggestion: “The only end game here that has a chance of working is to spin off Kuiper into Blue and integrate launch and satellites so both can progress on a continuous basis of build, launch, upgrade like SpaceX (and let Bezos pay for it all).”

    I don’t think that they would ever be on par with SpaceX, but the resulting entity could be just competitive enough – with good management – to keep SpaceX kinda honest, and be viable as the non-SpaceX launch provider and non_SpaceX low latency internet provider for those who want or need a non-SpaceX launch provider and non_SpaceX low latency internet provider.

    Stay tuned.

  • Jeff Wright

    Textron would have been the best fit perhaps..

  • James Stayton

    Oh noes!!! Don’t let NY State know that ULA over estimated the value of their company…

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