ULA sale saga continues as bankers speculate on buyer, price, and fate of deal

CNBC has recently reported that United Launch Alliance's (ULA) sale process has been ongoing for a year now, with the three reported bidders being Blue Origin, private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management, and aerospace company Textron.

The report notes that ULA's owners, Boeing and Lockheed Martin, have been trying to sell the company for over a decade now, but there are still sticking points that need to be negotiated before a deal can be finalized. One is the price, with initial bids for the company coming in at around $4 billion, but bankers estimating a reasonable selling price between $2 billion and $2.5 billion. Another issue is the need for the new owner to streamline costs and invest in innovation to keep up with competitors like SpaceX.

The report also notes that Textron's interest may not be as synergistic as the other bidders, as taking over a launch company is not the best way to get space exposure. On the other hand, Blue Origin already has a relationship with ULA and has been reported to be making progress on its New Glenn launch vehicle, so it would make sense for the company to focus on this rather than buying ULA's Vulcan rocket.

Cerberus is seen as a more sensible buyer as private equity owners are more likely to streamline costs and management while ramping up Vulcan's cadence. Plus, with the current macroenvironment, the firm seems well suited to complete a debt and equity bid combo.

The report concludes by noting that Blue Origin is the most likely to buy ULA, as it makes the most sense strategically, would give the company fresh capital, and would reduce the number of competitors in the heavy launch market.

Notably, there are rumors that a fourth bidder may enter the ULA sale process, with the introduction of a new competitor potentially altering the dynamics of the deal.

Overall, the report highlights the complexities of the ULA sale process and the challenges that the company's new owners will face in taking on industry giants like SpaceX.

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