Interest rates are all but certain to go up in December and one large defense contractor has seemingly gotten ahead of the game to make one more big buy before the Federal Reserve moves.
L-3 Communications announced after the close Tuesday it has put down an initial $280 million for U.K.-based MacDonald Humfrey Automation, a provider of screening technology to airports around the world, in a push by the former to increase its aviation security market presence.
NYC-based L-3 will pay an additional $37.5 million depending on MacDonald Humfrey’s performance from 2017 to 2019 post-transaction.
This deal brings L-3’s total acquisition announcements this year to nearly $480 million since the company offloaded its government services business in February to focus on technology products and platforms along with aerospace maintenance and training work.
That sale of “National Security Solutions” to CACI gave L-3 an approximate $550 million warchest for the latter’s capital deployment strategy that includes shareholder returns and acquisitions.
L-3 COO Chris Kubasik signaled in October to investors the company planned to continue its search for targets and said the contractor “may announce a few more before the end of 2016 or early next year.”
Interest rates went up last December after four years of near-zero levels that encouraged heightened M&A activity everywhere and certainly helped spur the well-documented GovCon deal spree.
With three weeks left before the Fed meets again, contracting industry observers now watch to see if anyone else gets ahead of the game.
Or like Kubasik hinted, whether L-3 will continue its trademark as an active buyer.
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