sabato 5 maggio 2012

se GeoEye compra DigitalGlobe


La cosiddetta breaking news per gli operatori del settore: GeoEye vuole comprare DigitalGlobe.

Annunciata ieri ufficialmente, la notizia della proposta d’acquisto (che era nell’aria già da un po’) ha subito fatto scalpore e provocato sussulti in borsa, per il momento positivi.

 La fusione tra le due società potrebbe dar vita alla più grande costellazione al mondo di satelliti commerciali ad altissima risoluzione. Già oggi se ne conterebbero cinque, tutti con risoluzione spaziale inferiore ad un metro, tra Ikonos, QuickBird, WorldView-1, GeoEye-1 e WorldView-2.
In attesa dei nuovi GeoEye-2 e WorldView-3, già annunciati, con l’altissima risoluzione spaziale, sempre più informazione spettrale e capacità di acquisizione sempre maggiore.

 Mi auguro di poter ospitare presto un commento di Giovanni Sylos Labini a questa notizia, da gran conoscitore del mercato aerospaziale mondiale qual è il mio CEO. Nel frattempo mi sembra ovvio pensare che questa prossima fusione si possa inquadrare nel contesto delle grosse aggregazioni industriali che stiamo osservando in questi ultimi tempi. Sul blog di Planetek abbiamo già parlato di Hexagon che, già proprietaria di Leica Geosystems ed ERDAS, con l’acquisizione di Intergraph ha creato una corrazzata senza pari nel mercato geospaziale, della quale siamo orgogliosi d’essere partner. Ma basti pensare anche a ciò che sta facendo Trimble, che l’altro giorno ha acquisito anche SketchUp da Google.

Certamente questa scelta è stata spinta dalla riduzione dei budget della difesa americana, che di questi operatori satellitari è il più grosso cliente e finanziatore. Vedendo a rischio il programma Enhanced View, che per GeoEye e DigitalGlobe rappresenta una principale fonte di entrate, era opportuno correre ai ripari. Scongiurando anche i rischi derivanti dalla progressiva ma costante riduzione dei prezzi dei dati che ormai, nell’altissima risoluzione, avendo raggiunto caratteristiche abbastanza equivalenti, sono diventati delle commodities per le quali diventa sempre più difficile trovare elementi caratterizzanti, spostando così la competizione commerciale quasi esclusivamente sul fattore prezzo.

Sarà interessante scoprire quali ricadute questa operazione avrà sul mercato globale dell’osservazione della Terra.

== Aggiornamento del 7 maggio 2012 ==


Tempestiva è giunta la replica del CEO di DigitalGlobe, Jeffrey R. Tarr, che scrivendo al CEO di GeoEye Matthew M. O’Connell respinge la proposta di acquisto con un fermo "ringrazio, rifiuto e vado avanti", come nel gioco dei pacchi. A questo punto, contrariamente a quanto sembrava trapelare dalle comunicazioni pubblicate dalla GeoEye, dubito che vedremo molto presto una fusione tra i due grandi operatori.
Jeff Tarr ne approfitta per togliersi qualche sassolino dalla scarpa, come potete leggere dal testo integrale della lettera che riporto di seguito. Sono curioso di vedere cosa succederà ai titoli delle due società questo pomeriggio, quando riapriranno i listini.

May 6, 2012

Dear Matt:
We are writing in response to GeoEye’s unsolicited conditional “public offer” to acquire DigitalGlobe made in your letter dated May 4, 2012.
Our board of directors has met, has carefully considered your proposal and has concluded that GeoEye’s proposal is not in the best interests of DigitalGlobe and its shareholders. Accordingly, DigitalGlobe rejects your offer. Given the abruptness of your “public offer” and our past discussions, we believe you made your hostile bid in desperation due to well-publicized concerns about potential government decisions that may jeopardize your portion of the EnhancedView program.

We believe you initiated discussions with us with your unsolicited highly conditional private offer on February 7, 2012 because you were concerned about a disproportionate risk of budget cuts affecting GeoEye.
We believe you have mischaracterized subsequent discussions in your May 4 letter as well as during your Friday investor call. In fact, we believe your public description of such discussions in your May 4 letter is materially misleading and incomplete.

Moreover, before we terminated discussions of a potential combination to await the government’s funding decision, the proposed transaction we were discussing contemplated that DigitalGlobe would designate a majority of the Board and that DigitalGlobe’s shareholders would own a substantial majority of the surviving company. Your May 4 letter fails to mention that we proposed to acquire GeoEye in an all-stock transaction on March 2, 2012 and reaffirmed the same offer on April 13, 2012, whereby:
  • DigitalGlobe’s shareholders would own 60% and GeoEye’s shareholders would own 40% of the combined company;
  • DigitalGlobe would control a majority of the Board; and
  • DigitalGlobe’s Chairman and CEO would continue in their respective leadership roles of the combined company.
This structure would maximize value to both sets of shareholders and customers. Furthermore, we believe our proposed structure more accurately reflects the value of DigitalGlobe and recognizes:
  • The strength of DigitalGlobe’s constellation of three healthy on-orbit high resolution satellites;
  • DigitalGlobe’s differentiated capabilities, which allow us to deliver vastly more imagery to the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency (“NGA”) than GeoEye, both in total and per-taxpayer dollar, generating significant value for the government and taxpayers;
  • DigitalGlobe’s superior current collection and delivery capabilities, which enable it alone to provide substantially all of what NGA is currently receiving from both companies under EnhancedView at substantially lower cost;
  • The superior performance of DigitalGlobe on the EnhancedView program as indicated by the repeated, large holdbacks you have incurred against your Service Level Agreement (“SLA”) — which we believe may indicate significant shortfalls in performance against NGA’s requirements; and
  • DigitalGlobe’s dramatically higher organic growth as evidenced by our 1Q 2012 revenue growth rate of 12%, compared to only 3% for GeoEye.
Despite the superior benefits to both of our shareholders and customers from our proposal to acquire GeoEye, you rejected our offer both in March and again in April. At that point, recognizing that the federal government was finalizing its budget process, we felt that we should terminate discussions and withdraw our offer.
We expected the budget process outcome would be favorable to DigitalGlobe and its shareholders and believed that protracted discussions between our companies at that time would be disruptive to the U.S. government in its decision-making process as well as create needless distraction to ongoing mission performance.
Therefore, we were surprised by your most recent unsolicited “public offer” given GeoEye’s continued government funding uncertainty. You even acknowledged in your Form 10-Q filing on May 4, 2012 that “management foresees continued uncertainty” regarding funding of your cost share payments beyond the amount to which the NGA is currently obligated.
Based on your cost share disclosure, May 4, 2012 earnings call and unsolicited bid, we are concerned about your overall EnhancedView program funding.

In response to your hostile “public offer,” on May 4, 2012, in our May 5, 2012 letter to you we again reiterated our interest in an acquisition of GeoEye on the terms substantially similar to those we previously offered to you.
Unfortunately, in discussions between counsel on May 5, 2012, you again rejected our proposal.
We continue to believe there are merits to a potential acquisition of GeoEye, but at this time, we also believe that it is in the best interests of DigitalGlobe’s principal constituencies, including our shareholders and all of our customers, to await the conclusion of the government budget decision process and to gain clarity with respect to EnhancedView funding.
When the government reaches its decision, DigitalGlobe will consider whether to make a proposal to acquire GeoEye.
(fonte: DigitalGlobe)