American division of satellite company QinetiQ ‘up for sale’

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THE American services arm of British defence group QinetiQ, which helps launch Nasa satellites, has reportedly been put up for sale.

Hampshire-based QinetiQ, which was controversially privatised in 2006, sent sale documents to potential buyers last week, the Sunday Times reported.

The former Ministry of Defence research arm joined
the stock market in a £1.3bn flotation which netted millions of pounds of shares for former civil servants for a small initial investment.

On flotation QinetiQ’s then chairman Sir John Chisholm saw the value of his two per cent stake in the company soar from the £129,000 he paid in 2002 to £28m, while former chief executive Graham Love’s 1.6 per cent slice leapt to £23m.

The report said industry sources believe the sale of its US services arm will spark interest in the rest of the group, which spans missile test bases across the UK, submarine testing and robots for warzones.

QinetiQ has appointed US investment bank Stone Key Partners to oversee the auction of its US services arm, with private equity firms reportedly interested.

The group has been hit hard by squeezed military spending and budget cuts in the US.

QinetiQ kicked off a strategic review of its US services arm in May after annual revenues there slumped 12 per cent to £475.6m – from a group total of £1.3bn.

A £256m writedown of the US services arm’s goodwill sent the group plunging to £137m pre-tax losses in the year to the end of March.

The report said the division could be worth between £300m and £400m.

A QinetiQ spokeswoman said: “We are working with a number of advisers to understand the options for maximising the value of US Services.”