Loral Corp. said Monday that it plans to sell a 49% interest in its newly acquired satellite division of Newport Beach-based Ford Aerospace Corp. to three European firms for $182 million.
Loral, a New York-based defense electronics concern, will sell the minority interest in the Palo Alto-based Space Systems division to Aerospatiale Societe Nationale Industrielle of France, Alcatel NV of Belgium and Selenia Spazio SPA of Italy.
The sale is the second major asset of Ford Aerospace to be partially or fully divested by Loral before it completes its $715-million acquisition of the aerospace and defense company. The sale is expected to close sometime this week, said Elizabeth Allen, a Loral spokeswoman.
The deal with the European firms would create one of the world's largest commercial satellite businesses, with combined satellite operations revenue of $1.3 billion between the partners, challenging Hughes Aircraft Co. and General Electric Corp.
Despite some analysts' expectations that Loral will sell the Newport Beach-based Aeronutronic division, Allen said the company has no plans to sell any other Ford Aerospace divisions. In September, Loral sold Ford's BDM International defense consulting subsidiary to the Carlyle Group, a Washington investment group, for $130 million.
After agreeing to buy Ford Aerospace in July, Loral Chairman Bernard Schwartz promised that he would not break up the operations of Ford Aerospace piecemeal.
But with the sale of BDM and the satellite operations, Schwartz said the company decided after examining the businesses that the sale of the units would be exceptions to that promise.