In an announcement made this week MDA said it is planning on going public and offering Canadians a chance to invest in one of Canada’s most iconic companies. A company whose Canadarm 2 technology adorns the Canadian $5 bill. The historic Canadian space company is hoping for a return to the stock market as it targets a $500 million initial IPO.
With over 60 years of space innovation Canada has been making serious space news. MDA is the largest company in the space and has been leading the Canadian space robotics industry for decades. The global space industry has been sky rocketing of late. While famous tech leaders like Elon Musk (Tesla), Sir Richard Branson (Virgin Galactic), and Jeff Bezos (Blue Origin) make news in commercial space endeavours Canada has made some serious moves as well in the sector. This time last year a team of Canadian billionaires, including tech darling Jim Balsillie (Blackberry), quietly took back possession of the country’s iconic space robotics leader, MDA from struggling USA parent co. Maxar.
Canada has reached some significant space milestones of late with Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government announcing a 2+ billion dollar investment in space exploration and other space related activity. Canada will join the United States on its aggressive endeavours to put humans back on the moon and eventually boots on Mars. Canada was the first country to commit to the NASA led Artemis program and will contribute a robotic arm to help astronauts succeed. NASA recently announced two Canadian astronauts will be part of those moon missions, a benefit for countries who invest internationally in advancing human space exploration.
At the time of announcement by Canada in Artemis MDA boss Mike Greenley said “MDA is proud to continue our legacy of working with the Canadian Space Agency and its international partners to design, build and deploy robotic systems in support of space exploration missions. This project will leverage MDA’s world-leading space robotics capabilities, gained through the Canadarm programs, and will be an important component of Canada’s contribution to the NASA-led Gateway. We are proud to deliver new jobs in Canada and engage our Canadian supply base in preparation for Canadarm3.”
No comment has been given on the upcoming IPO but you can bet investors are taking notice. Canada uniquely benefits from a Canadian Space Agency program that leads contracting of these projects while deeply investing into innovative companies. MDA are one of the largest benefactors of this investment. Space Exploration is an international effort that requires government support to accelerate innovation and Canada is not lacking in that support. These investments have proved worthwhile not only above the stratosphere, but often shape every day technology (like Wi-Fi) we use here on earth.
The timing bodes well for MDA as the company has also been active in creating jobs and opportunities for the growing earth observation market. It was announced last month that the Government of Canada intends to launch an international space program to track illegal fishing. MDA is a key partner providing data from its partnership in the Radarsat program. Companies like MDA and Telesat have been going toe to toe with their international competitors in satellite technology. Ottawa Canada based Telesat recently launched their Lightspeed initiative in partnership with MDA. The goal is to provide global broadband via low earth orbit satellites.
Canada has had an extensive recent government track record for investing in what some refer to as “The New Space Economy”. Space travel, space mining, space robotics, and earth observation are just some of the areas where deep investments have been made. Canada is also a leading nation in Astronomy. Space geeks have been following the progress of the James Webb Telescope which Canada has helped build. Set to launch October 31st, the JWST will orbit the sun, 940,000 miles away from Earth, four times further away than the moon and provide a look into deep space hoping to find fascinating new discoveries about our universe.
Space investment became a national issue in 2017 when the country was about to be dumped from the International space community for its lack of investment. A concerted effort by the space community, including current and former astronauts, engineers and enthusiasts rallied to expose the potential that sixty plus years of innovation were about to be lost if we didn’t make the international commitment. This would include losing rides to space for our world leading astronauts. Events took place across the country and messages adorned the streets of Ottawa Canada via a coalition of space companies who came together in a creative campaign referred to as “Don’t Let Go Canada.” Astronauts and space leaders took to Twitter, Facebook, reddit and other social media spaces to evangelize the need for a new space strategy. The efforts paid off as Justin Trudeau announced Canada’s continued commitment by joining the ambitious Lunar Gateway Program. The program participation would ensure Canada remained a global leader in space innovation and spur investment in a sector that has some of our brightest minds.
The Public Offering is being made through a syndicate of underwriters led by BMO Capital Markets, Morgan Stanley Canada Limited and Scotiabank, as joint bookrunners, with Barclays Capital Canada Inc., RBC Dominion Securities Inc., Canaccord Genuity Corp., CIBC World Markets Inc., National Bank Financial Inc. and Stifel Nicolaus Canada Inc., as underwriters.
The Universe Needs More Canada and there is definitely more to come on this story…