Cobham Makes Second Attempt at Thrane & Thrane Acquisition

[Satellite News 04-10-12] British aeronautics technology developer Cobham has renewed its 270 million pound ($428.2 million) bid to acquire satellite antenna and hardware manufacturer Thrane & Thrane after Cobham investors warmed to the proposal that was initially withdrawn in March, the company confirmed April 10.

   Cobham initially submitted an offer to acquire Thrane & Thrane for 420 Danish crowns, or $73.78 per share, in February, but withdrew the offer March 12 after Thrane & Thrane’s board of directors failed to recommend the proposal. Thrane shareholders were not pleased by the board’s actions, which led to the resignation of Thrane Chairman Waldemar Schmidt on March 26.
   A little more than a week later, Cobham announced April 5 that it had purchased a combined 22.74 percent of Thrane’s equity from Jupiter Asset Management and other shareholders. Now, Cobham said it is willing to pay nearly $320 million to purchase the remaining 74.4 percent share of the Danish manufacturer. Cobham said its offer to acquire Thrane will be delivered by April 13 and will remain valid for a month, with a possible extension up to 10 weeks under Danish law.
   Cobham’s management team said the company is willing to settle for a lesser stake in Thrane if its shareholders do not all rally behind the bid. Cobham added that the offer price represents a 43 percent premium compared to Thrane’s stock-trading values before Feb. 24, when Thrane management announced that it had received an unsolicited takeover bid.
   Despite Cobham’s assertion that the merge would create what it believes will be the world’s largest satellite antenna business, Thrane’s board of directors said the Cobham offer might not be the best available.
   “The board continues the initiated strategic review of the opportunities available to Thrane & Thrane,” the company said in a statement issued April 7. “Cobham’s acquisition offer appears to reaffirm that Thrane & Thrane holds a very strong position and attractive opportunities for further investment. As announced previously, the board expects to be able to announce the results from the strategic review no later than May 14.”
   Cobham’s satellite telecommunications businesses focuses on mobile communications terminals and generates most of its revenue from its SeaTel, TracStar and Omnipless businesses. In 2011, MSS operator Inmarsat named Cobham its initial maritime partner for its $1.2 billion investment in Global Xpress Ka-band satellite network, which aims to provide a broadband component to Inmarsat’s L-band mobile satellite communications business. Thrane & Thrane also has significant business with Inmarsat, as the company recently delivered 600 Explorer 325 vehicular BGAN terminals with push-to-talk units and associated server infrastructure to Elektro Brazil on March 15. The Explorer 325 terminals that were installed on Elektro Brazil’s operating vehicles feature voice and data connectivity and routing over 4G/3G/GPRS and Inmarsat BGAN. Thrane & Thrane said the deliver represented the largest Inmarsat BGAN delivery project ever in Brazil.
   Analysts project that the Cobham acquisition of Thrane & Thrane would more than double Cobham’s satellite telecommunications business and yield more than 2 million pounds ($3.16 million) in annual pre-tax savings by eliminating redundancies in the two companies’ engineering, production and distribution operations.

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