BAE Systems in running for Sanders acquisition

BAE Systems has confirmed that it is interested in buying Sanders, the US-based defence electronics firm, from Lockheed Martin.

`Yes, we are looking at it, but so are lots of other people,’ a BAE Systems spokesman said. `Lockheed Martin has said that these businesses are up for sale and has said to us, “come take a look”.’

BAE Systems added that there was no likelihood of an early acquisition.

Lockheed Martin has put the whole of Lockheed Martin Aerospace and Electronic Systems up for sale, which includes Sanders as one of its subsidiaries. The decision to sell was made in the wake of a crisis over reduced profitability at the company.

Sanders is based in New Hampshire and specialises in airborne and naval electronic warfare and countermeasures. The company could be worth almost £1.3bn and would complement the activities of BAE Systems in these fields.

Sanders has a turnover of £700m and around 5,500 staff.

Rivals for BAE Systems’ interest in Sanders include Thomson-CSF, the French Aerospace company, and DaimlerChrysler Aerospace (Dasa), the German-US aerospace company.

DASA is now in the process of merging with Aerospatiale Matra of France and Casa of Spain to form Eads, a European aerospace and defence giant which will rival Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Raytheon.

Besides Sanders, Lockheed Martin is also putting up for sale Fairchild Systems, the aerospace component company, as well as a communication division within Lockheed Martin Aerospace.

* BAE Systems North America this week acquired Femtometrics, a California-based technology company which specialises in chemical agent detection. No price was put on the acquisition, which is part of BAE Systems’ effort to become a leading supplier of equipment for detecting chemical and biological agents.

Femtometrics and BAE Systems teamed up on the US military’s tri-service joint chemical agent detector programme over the past two years.