Alliant still awaiting word from government on MDA sale

The federal government is expected to officially close the door on the proposed sale of the space assets of MacDonald Dettwiler and Associates Ltd. to a U.S. space and weapons company today.

The chief executive of Alliant Techsystems Inc. says the company has received "absolutely no indication of a change" in the Canadian government's decision to block the sale of the space assets of MacDonald Dettwiler and Associates Ltd. to the U.S. space and weapons company.

During a conference call Thursday morning, Alliant CEO Dan Murphy said his company is still awaiting an official response from the government and expects one within a week.

Four weeks ago, Industry Minister Jim Prentice rejected the proposed $1.3 billion sale of Richmond, B.C.-based MDA's space and information systems divisions to Alliant Techsystems Inc., arguing the deal had no "net benefit" for Canada.

Alliant had 30 days to persuade the government otherwise, but that review period ends today, the same day the Minnesota-based company issued its year-end earnings.

In their year-end earnings release, Alliant said that if the transaction of MDA's units did not close, the company could incur a charge for transaction-related expenses that could be applied to its fourth quarter earnings.

Last week MDA, the maker of the Radarsat-2 satellite and the Canadarm technology at work on the U.S. space shuttles and International Space Station, broke its long silence over the government's decision, arguing it wanted a chance to make its case for the sale.

MDA is expected to release its own year-end earnings on Monday, May 12.

Prentice is not expected to reverse his decision of a month ago, particularly since the Conservative government hailed the decision as a triumph for Canada's sovereignty.

"They've painted themselves into a corner," said Andrew Eddy, a former manager at the Canadian Space Agency who now heads the aerospace think tank Athena Global.