Author Topic: Potential sale of ULA  (Read 89002 times)

Offline FutureSpaceTourist

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Potential sale of ULA
« on: 03/01/2023 03:55 pm »
https://twitter.com/sciguyspace/status/1630974915674243082

Quote
NEWS: United Launch Alliance is likely to be sold this year. The potential sale has not been disclosed publicly, but three sources confirmed to Ars that potential buyers have been contacted about the opportunity.

https://arstechnica.com/science/2023/03/sources-say-prominent-us-rocket-maker-united-launch-alliance-is-up-for-sale/

From the article:

Quote
In response to a request for comment to Boeing and Lockheed, the companies issued the following statement: "Consistent with our corporate practice, Boeing/Lockheed Martin doesn’t comment on potential market rumors or speculation about financial activities."
« Last Edit: 03/01/2023 03:57 pm by FutureSpaceTourist »

Offline ZachF

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Re: Potential sale of ULA
« Reply #1 on: 03/01/2023 04:02 pm »
I floated Blue buying ULA years ago…. Wouldn’t be surprised if the price is right.

Boeing is probably the instigator since they aren’t doing so hot right now…

Would be niece to see them liberated from their extractive parents either way.
« Last Edit: 03/01/2023 04:05 pm by ZachF »
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Online DanClemmensen

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Re: Potential sale of ULA
« Reply #2 on: 03/01/2023 04:19 pm »
I floated Blue buying ULA years ago…. Wouldn’t be surprised if the price is right.

Boeing is probably the instigator since they aren’t doing so hot right now…

Would be niece to see them liberated from their extractive parents either way.
What are ULA's most valuable assets? Would a buyer get more value by maintaining ULA as a unified entity or by breaking it up?
Here is an incomplete and unsorted list of assets:
  *workforce
  *real estate, buildings, factories.
  *Vulcan
  *Other IP
  *remaining 19 Atlas V launchers and launch contracts
  *one remaining Delta IV and launch contract

Offline Jim

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Re: Potential sale of ULA
« Reply #3 on: 03/01/2023 04:39 pm »

What are ULA's most valuable assets? Would a buyer get more value by maintaining ULA as a unified entity or by breaking it up?
Here is an incomplete and unsorted list of assets:
  *workforce
  *real estate, buildings, factories.
  *Vulcan
  *Other IP
  *remaining 19 Atlas V launchers and launch contracts
  *one remaining Delta IV and launch contract

there is nothing to breakup.  it is all or nothing

Offline AllenB

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Re: Potential sale of ULA
« Reply #4 on: 03/01/2023 04:42 pm »
[edit: I'd originally written "considerable positive reputation and goodwill" with their primary customer(s) to be added to their list of assets.]

Best news I've heard in a long time for ULA. Getting out from under the current pair of thumbs could only be positive.

[FST: I’m sorry, hit edit instead of quote by mistake and didn’t realise. Doh!]
« Last Edit: 03/01/2023 05:01 pm by AllenB »

Online GWH

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Re: Potential sale of ULA
« Reply #5 on: 03/01/2023 04:54 pm »
What are ULA's most valuable assets? Would a buyer get more value by maintaining ULA as a unified entity or by breaking it up?
Here is an incomplete and unsorted list of assets:
  *workforce
  *real estate, buildings, factories.
  *Vulcan
  *Other IP
  *remaining 19 Atlas V launchers and launch contracts
  *one remaining Delta IV and launch contract

 *Actual orbital launch experience
 *The entirety of the Vulcan contracts with USSF
 *Crewed orbital launch (with Boeing of course)
 *2 decades of working with NASA & DOD/USSF for high profile, expensive & complicated missions. Both the expertise and relationships there are highly valuable IMO.
 *Vulcan launch contracts with Amazon... complicated by the fact they can't reuse BE-4s and Blue holds all the cards on production. Would be real nice to slide New Glenn in a little earlier, hopefully at a higher profit margin than Vulcan.
 *More leverage with jobs in districts... dirty but that's their MO.
 *Whatever IP is developed for CentaurV/ACES. If Bezos is truly forward thinking thing would be used extensively to help them build their long term goals.

To me it makes sense to Blue as a business. They get to buy their way directly in to the very high end type of launch services ULA specialized in. Operate them as a specialized entity for serving those customers, without necessarily complicating the rest of their core commercial business with the complications the government contracts entail. Then slowly transition New Glenn in as the primary rocket for the entirety of their operations.
« Last Edit: 03/01/2023 04:59 pm by FutureSpaceTourist »

Offline FutureSpaceTourist

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Re: Potential sale of ULA
« Reply #6 on: 03/01/2023 05:00 pm »
Fingers crossed this is positive long-term for ULA.

Worth noting that many mergers or acquisitions are not successful. Also I fear the sellers may ultimately be focussed on price? However, given the potential national security implications, I assume that will ensure ULA very much remains a going concern and is strengthened rather than weakened.

Offline seb21051

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Re: Potential sale of ULA
« Reply #7 on: 03/01/2023 05:14 pm »
Who would hazard a guess as to its price? Also, I would think a few successful Vulcan launches would make it a prettier bride.

And that a sale to BO might be very disrupting, since such a parent might mess with its structure in general, and its upper managerial structure in particular.
« Last Edit: 03/01/2023 05:19 pm by seb21051 »

Online Vahe231991

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Re: Potential sale of ULA
« Reply #8 on: 03/01/2023 05:32 pm »
I floated Blue buying ULA years ago…. Wouldn’t be surprised if the price is right.

Boeing is probably the instigator since they aren’t doing so hot right now…

Would be niece to see them liberated from their extractive parents either way.
The first stage of the Vulcan rocket uses the rocket motor made by Blue Origin, while the Centaur stage uses engines made by Aerojet. If Blue Origin acquires ULA, it would have a diverse portfolio of SLVs of different sizes, and there are some former engineers who worked on the Delta II who have criticized Boeing's acquisition of McDonnell Douglas (which built the Delta II).

Offline meekGee

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Re: Potential sale of ULA
« Reply #9 on: 03/01/2023 05:38 pm »
Who would hazard a guess as to its price? Also, I would think a few successful Vulcan launches would make it a prettier bride.

And that a sale to BO might be very disrupting, since such a parent might mess with its structure in general, and its upper managerial structure in particular.
Yeah, but why would anyone other than BO buy it?

It's one thing to keep going with what you've got since, well, you're stuck with it.  But why would an external uninvolved party jump into that?  It's not a healthy bed.

BO may just want to bring everything together, have in-house BE-4 based launches before NG, have a smoother Vulcan-to-NG transition process...

Another option is if one parent wants to buy the other out, since they have a development plan and the other parent doesn't want to play.  That might be a happier story.
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Offline ZachF

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Re: Potential sale of ULA
« Reply #10 on: 03/01/2023 05:39 pm »
What are ULA's most valuable assets? Would a buyer get more value by maintaining ULA as a unified entity or by breaking it up?
Here is an incomplete and unsorted list of assets:
  *workforce
  *real estate, buildings, factories.
  *Vulcan
  *Other IP
  *remaining 19 Atlas V launchers and launch contracts
  *one remaining Delta IV and launch contract

 *Actual orbital launch experience
 *The entirety of the Vulcan contracts with USSF
 *Crewed orbital launch (with Boeing of course)
 *2 decades of working with NASA & DOD/USSF for high profile, expensive & complicated missions. Both the expertise and relationships there are highly valuable IMO.
 *Vulcan launch contracts with Amazon... complicated by the fact they can't reuse BE-4s and Blue holds all the cards on production. Would be real nice to slide New Glenn in a little earlier, hopefully at a higher profit margin than Vulcan.
 *More leverage with jobs in districts... dirty but that's their MO.
 *Whatever IP is developed for CentaurV/ACES. If Bezos is truly forward thinking thing would be used extensively to help them build their long term goals.

To me it makes sense to Blue as a business. They get to buy their way directly in to the very high end type of launch services ULA specialized in. Operate them as a specialized entity for serving those customers, without necessarily complicating the rest of their core commercial business with the complications the government contracts entail. Then slowly transition New Glenn in as the primary rocket for the entirety of their operations.

A workforce with launch experience will be important.

Let’s be honest, New Glenn probably won’t fly until 2025… and using historical ramping rates it will probably take until 2028 for first booster reuse and an annual cadence over 5. During that time Vulcan will possibly be launching like 20 times a year for DoD and Kuiper.

A BO purchase gives them an experienced workforce to manage the up ramp.

Now add in government contacts, reputation, launch sites, ACES, etc.
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Offline TrevorMonty

Re: Potential sale of ULA
« Reply #11 on: 03/01/2023 06:16 pm »
LM, Northorp Grumman, SNC, Leidos (Dynetics parents) are all possibilities.


Given a bit more freedom they a capable of great things but really need to bring propulsion inhouse.

One of ULA's biggest assets is Tory Bruno, he may not stay if he doesn't like new owners. If Blue buys them and puts Tory in charge of Blue that would be interesting scenario. He is CEO that Blue needs.
« Last Edit: 03/01/2023 06:19 pm by TrevorMonty »

Offline deltaV

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Re: Potential sale of ULA
« Reply #12 on: 03/01/2023 07:04 pm »
Getting out from under the current pair of thumbs could only be positive.

Getting out of Boeing and Lockheed's control would probably be positive for ULA, but it could be negative if ULA is bought by someone that's even less interested in long term space development, e.g. a hedge fund.

Offline pathfinder_01

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Re: Potential sale of ULA
« Reply #13 on: 03/01/2023 07:23 pm »
This merger would be good for the both of them. Blue gains revenue and ULA gets it's independence from two owners that limited it's options if they competed with them.

Online Coastal Ron

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Re: Potential sale of ULA
« Reply #14 on: 03/01/2023 07:59 pm »
What a surprise! NOT!

The handwriting has been on the wall for the ULA joint venture to end for many years, and it could be that the parties that have been interested in acquiring all of ULA have actually made their interests known for many years - but now was the best time for the ULA partners to end the joint venture.

I see no reason for Boeing to want to buy all of ULA, but I do think that Lockheed Martin would be interested.

In the Ars Technica article Eric Berger suggests Amazon would be interested, but I'm not sure that makes sense. Other than money, I don't see what they bring to the table on such an acquisition.

Jeff Bezos buying ULA to improve Blue Origin would make sense (I vote for anything to make Blue Origin go faster  ;)), and Northrop Grumman would make sense too since they are already in the launch business, and already have a strong relationship with U.S. Government customers.

Other U.S. Government contractors could make a case, but not sure it would be as strong as LM and NG. But hey, money talks in this situation, not logic, so who knows?
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Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Potential sale of ULA
« Reply #15 on: 03/01/2023 08:05 pm »
Northrop Grumman and Blue make sense. Amazon is less dumb than you might think since a huge portion of Kuiper is slated for launching on ULA. But it’d be super weird for Jeff to basically partially own/run two competing launch providers.

Northrop is not out of the question. Lockheed would make some sense, too.

But I really hope it’s Blue Origin.
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Offline Bananas_on_Mars

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Re: Potential sale of ULA
« Reply #16 on: 03/01/2023 08:17 pm »
Amazon is less dumb than you might think since a huge portion of Kuiper is slated for launching on ULA. But it’d be super weird for Jeff to basically partially own/run two competing launch providers.

My prediction is Amazon buying ULA now and merging it with Blue Origin 5 years later.

Both Blue Origin and ULA are better off IMO if they can continue the next few years without any troubles from a merger. Once New Glenn is flying reliably, look what‘s best to keep and trim the rest.

And don’t forget that Amazon will need the 37 launches contracted with ULA for initial deployment. But the constellation business will need constant replenishment and upgrades to stay competitive.

Offline Tywin

Re: Potential sale of ULA
« Reply #17 on: 03/01/2023 08:29 pm »
I hope is blue...
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Offline ulm_atms

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Re: Potential sale of ULA
« Reply #18 on: 03/01/2023 08:32 pm »
Northrop Grumman and Blue make sense. Amazon is less dumb than you might think since a huge portion of Kuiper is slated for launching on ULA. But it’d be super weird for Jeff to basically partially own/run two competing launch providers.

Northrop is not out of the question. Lockheed would make some sense, too.

But I really hope it’s Blue Origin.
Only if Tory keeps the head job and NOT Bob though....

Offline DeimosDream

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Re: Potential sale of ULA
« Reply #19 on: 03/01/2023 08:36 pm »
I see this as one or both parents trying to cash out before ULA becomes non-competitive. That isn't a great endorsement, but as long as ULA is profitable short term someone will be interested if the asking price is low enough.

I suspect the winning bid will be Blue, Northorp, or one parent buying out the other.

Northorp is my favorite. They are already ULA's solid booster supplier for Atlas/Vulcan and the new Antares 330 looks like it could use a Centaur 2nd stage. The community likes to joke about rockets != legos, but the engineers Northorp acquired from Orbital ATK seem to have made careers out of making stage mixes/swaps work.

I agree Amazon would be weird.

 

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