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Norway’s Kongsberg to Acquire Smallsat Manufacturer NanoAvionics 

By Rachel Jewett | July 5, 2022

NanoAvionics 3U satellite assembly. Photo: NanoAvionics

Norwegian company Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace is acquiring smallsat manufacturer NanoAvionics under a deal announced Tuesday, valuing NanoAvionics at 65 million euros ($67 million). Kongsberg will acquire 77% of the company, and majority owner AST SpaceMobile will divest all its shares. NanoAvionics management will retain 23% of the company. 

NanoAvionics is known as a leading smallsat bus manufacturer and the company has seen rapid growth in recent years. The company tripled revenue from 2019 to 2020 while expanding in the United States, and has contributed to 120 missions with customers including Thales Alenia Space, Aurora Insight, and Sen. 

The company is based in Lithuania and has facilities in Basingstoke in the United Kingdom and in Columbia, Illinois in the United States. It also has a partnership with Ananth Technologies for market access in India

NanoAvionics will stay under the leadership of founders CEO Vytenis Buzas and CCO Linas Sargautis. 

“Joining forces with Kongsberg, one of the most respected names in the defense, maritime, and space domain, further strengthens and broadens our position in the new space sector and provides us access to new markets. It is the right timing and a perfect match for our companies to consolidate our expertise and create a world class space company which will be a leading prime contractor for small satellite missions,” Buzas said. 

Kongsberg is a large multinational company based in Norway with operations in marine, defense, aerospace, and energy industries. Its space portfolio includes spacecraft subsystems, and ground network provider Kongsberg Satellite Services (KSAT). 

Kongsberg CEO Geir Håøy called the acquisition a “game changer” for Kongsberg’s space ambitions.

Eirik Lie, president of Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace said the combined company will provide solutions including manufacturing, payload production and integration, launch services, and mission control and data processing

“The market for small satellite constellations will increase going forward, within commercial, security and defense segments. NanoAvionics has a strong proven track record, and we look forward to working closely with this talented team,” Lie said. 

The translation is subject to regulatory approval. 

The deal comes after Kongsberg procured three microsatellites from NanoAvionics for maritime surveillance, to form the basis for Norway’s first satellite constellation. Kongsberg also recently opened a new facility for space products.

Lie said this acquisition supports Norway’s growth in space, including the Andøya space port which is preparing to host commercial and civil launches

“Norway is a leader in the domain of maritime surveillance in the high north. The planned acquisition incorporates world class small satellite technology into our portfolio enabling further advances in surveillance and other key strategic capacities. NanoAvionics, along with our existing space portfolio and the development of the Andøya space port means Norway now has leading positions across the entire value chain,” says Lie.

AST SpaceMobile, which acquired its stake in NanoAvionics in 2018, said it will generate approximately $28 million from the divestment. 

Scott Wisniewski, AST SpaceMobile chief strategy officer commented: “The planned sale of our investment in NanoAvionics will provide additional liquidity and allow AST SpaceMobile to focus on its core, direct-to-cell phone technology and the launch of the first commercial satellites. Together with existing balance sheet cash, proceeds from the sale and the recently announced $75 million committed equity facility, we have access to significant liquidity to execute our business plan.”