EADS buy out will give SSTL room to grow

Leading European space technology firm business EADS Astrium is to acquire small-scale satellite specialist Surrey Satellite Technology Limited in one of the largest deals involving a spin-out from a UK university.

The University of Surrey, home to SSTL, said the decision to sell its majority stake would provide the company with the financial and industrial resources it needs to expand its small and micro satellite business. Completion of the acquisition, which is subject to regulatory approval, would see ownership of SSTL transferred to EADS̵7; base in the Netherlands.

SSTL executive chairman Sir Martin Sweeting said the move would strengthen the company, which will remain an independent UK company, whilst preserving its unique approach to space technology. ̶0;SSTL operates in a highly competitive global market. If we are to continue changing the economics of space and provide the innovative solutions our customers demand, we must expand and maintain our R&D investment,̶1; he commented.

The university will retain a small stake in SSTL, a decision that vice-chancellor Professor Christopher Snowden said shows its commitment to both the future of the company and to space research. ̶0;On completion, this will represent one of the largest cash spin-outs from any UK university. It will also allow the company to realise its full potential as a rapidly growing and leading supplier of small and micro-satellites, whilst the university retains the benefit of close interaction with SSTL and its new partner.̶1;

SSTL, formed by the University of Surrey in 1985 to exploit the commercial small satellite market, has launched 27 small satellite missions for a range of applications including Earth observation, communication and navigation. It claims to be the world̵7;s premier small satellite supplier, employing 270 staff across three sites in the south-east of England. The company achieved a £26 million turnover last year and are currently building a further 14 spacecraft at their manufacturing facilities in Guildford.

Image: SSTL's headquarters on the Surrey Research Park

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