Monday, January 12, 2015

A Space "Socio-Economic Impact Statement," a COM DEV Conference Call, more Telesat Sale Snags & Lego Astronauts

          by Chuck Black

Here are a few of the unfolding Canadian space stories currently being tracked by the Commercial Space blog.

The space sector, particularly its legislative component, has always been known for studies and reports and Canada is no exception in this area. As outlined in the October 27th, 2014 post, "Free OECD Report on Space Economy Provides Guidance for Upcoming Paid CSA Report," a Canadian Space Agency (CSA) contract valued at $285,000 CDN to undertake a "comprehensive socio-economic impact assessment" of the Canadian space sector, should be complete and ready for presentation by January 30th, 2015.

However, there is so far no advance word on whether the upcoming report (compiled by the North American subsidiary of Paris, France based Euroconsult) will supplement or supersede existing documents, such as the annual State of the Canadian Space Sector Report (which is typically released during the December/ January period) and no suggestion that the report might ever be released to the public.

Of course, the private sector is often perceived of as being more forthcoming with information. As outlined in the January 8th, 2015 press release, "COM DEV Announces Details of Fourth Quarter and Year End Fiscal 2014 Conference Call," Cambridge based COM DEV International will be releasing its Q4 and year end financial results, plus hosting an investor conference call to discuss them, on Thursday, January 15th, 2015.

With 1200 employees, the firm is a global provider of space hardware and services with annual revenues of $216Mln CDN, and facilities in Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States. As outlined in the December 15th, 2014 post, "COM DEV Buys a Scottish Microwave Equipment Manufacturer," the company has just concluded the first of a promised series of international acquisitions intended to grow the company and gain access to foreign markets.

And, as discussed in the January 10th, 2015 Bloomberg post, "Canada Funds’ Bid for Telesat Said to Hit Financing Snag," the ongoing attempt by Loral Space & Communications Inc. (LORL) to sell its Telesat shares to the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan and the Public Sector Pension Investment Board, has been delayed again.

This time, the sale stalled amid a "regulatory clampdown on the leveraged-loan market." As outlined in the December 3rd, 2014 Wall Street Journal article, "Private-Equity Firms Adapt to Regulatory Clampdown," the use of borrowed assets to fund purchases, which boost immediate overall returns to an acquirer, could also potentially burden the acquired company with too much debt to ever return to profitability after the purchase.

LEGO minifigure versions of Expedition 42 crew members Terry Virts, Anton Shklaperov, and Samantha Cristoforetti are seen on the International Space Station. Lego Chris says hi. Photo c/o NASA.
But in an industry generally assumed to be at least as much about encouraging the efforts of "boys with toys," it's refreshing to find an actual toy company bearing gifts for real space geeks. As outlined in the Yahoo News UK article, "Astronauts Get Their Own LEGO Minifigures on Space Station," LEGO mini-figures customized to look like NASA astronaut Terry Virts, Roscosmos cosmonaut Anton Shklaperov and European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti were among the gifts the crew exchanged on New Year's Day.

According to the article, the LEGO was a gift from Cristoforetti, who received them from a ESA training instructor, who commissioned them from the UK-based company

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