Space firm dismisses Alliant Tech deal fear

Tue Apr 1, 2008 3:39pm EDT
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By David Ljunggren

OTTAWA (Reuters) - A Canadian space firm seeking to sell sensitive satellite technology to U.S. ammunition and rocket maker Alliant Techsystems Inc ATK.N on Tuesday dismissed concerns that the deal could endanger national sovereignty.

MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd (MDA) (MDA.TO: Quote) wants to dispose of a range of satellite technology and land-based data processing centers, some of which are used by the Canadian government. These include the high-tech Radarsat 2 satellite, launched last December.

Critics say the sale could result in Washington preventing Ottawa from seeing data from the satellite, such as images revealing whether U.S. ships were sailing through Canada's Arctic waters.

MDA Chief Executive Daniel Friedman said Radarsat 2 was a Canadian satellite operating under a license granted by the Canadian government.

"This license provides the government with control over operation of the satellite and the use and distribution of the date received from the satellite. It is important to note that this control is not dependent on (the) corporate nationality of the licensee," he said.

"I believe the government of Canada has all the necessary powers and authority to ensure that in future it will continue to exercise full control over Radarsat 2," he told Parliament's standing committee on industry, science and technology.

Federal Industry Minister Jim Prentice has until April 21 to decide whether to block the $1.325 billion deal on national security grounds. MDA also plans to sell a unit that makes robotics for the International Space Station.

Ottawa is obliged to review all proposed foreign purchases of Canadian companies worth C$270 million ($262 million) or more. It has never vetoed a deal.   Continued...