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Astrium to Buy Surrey Satellite Technology

STEVENAGE & GUILDFORD, England --- EADS Astrium, Europe’s leading space company, has entered into an agreement to acquire the innovative University of Surrey spin-out company Surrey Satellite Technology Limited (SSTL), which specialises in the design and manufacture of small and micro satellites.

This landmark deal provides the financial and industrial resources required for SSTL’s expansion and future development. Completion of the acquisition is subject to obtaining the relevant regulatory approval.

“In the UK we are renowned for our design and manufacture of telecommunications satellites, interplanetary spacecraft and satellite services provision. SSTL is one of the great success stories of the UK space industry and will be a substantial complement to what we can offer customers around the world with its expertise in small and micro satellites and their innovative approach to developing new markets for space,” said Colin Paynter, CEO of Astrium in the UK.

Professor Sir Martin Sweeting, Executive Chairman of SSTL, has been an active ambassador for the UK space industry for many years and considers the acquisition as essential: “SSTL operates in a highly competitive global market. If we are to continue changing the economics of space and provide the innovative solutions our customers demand we must expand and maintain our R&D investment. This acquisition strengthens SSTL enormously whilst preserving our unique approach to space.”

Professor Christopher Snowden, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Surrey commented: “This is a great move for both the University and SSTL. On completion, this will represent one of the largest cash spin-outs from any UK university. It will also allow the Company to realise its full potential as a rapidly growing and leading supplier of small and micro satellites, whilst the University retains the benefit of close interaction with SSTL and its new partner EADS Astrium. By retaining a small stake in SSTL the University shows its commitment to both the future of the Company and space research itself.”

SSTL is joining EADS Astrium following a decision by the University of Surrey to sell its majority stake of circa 80% in the small satellite manufacturer. SSTL will remain an independent UK company with its individual brand and unique approach to space following the agreement, whilst benefiting from access to the resources of a large corporation including design, manufacturing and test facilities. Astrium will benefit from enhanced links with the University of Surrey to support staff training and development, also leading to greater cooperation and increased research on space technology and systems.

Astrium is one of the world’s leaders for its expertise in space transportation, spacecraft and satellite services including prime contractor for Ariane 5, the Columbus space laboratory and the Automated Transfer Vehicle for the International Space Station, and its leading-edge large and complex geostationary telecommunications satellites, and the Skynet 5 secure communications system for the UK Ministry of Defence. SSTL will complement Astrium’s existing space capabilities that include space transportation, satellites and services.

Under the share purchase agreement, SSTL will be owned by EADS Astrium NV in the Netherlands. Completion of the transaction remains subject to approval by the relevant merger control authorities.

The agreement sees long-term research collaboration between the University of Surrey and EADS Astrium and will further advance the University’s cutting edge space research capacity. The collaboration will also allow Astrium to benefit from staff training and development opportunities afforded by the links with the University. The sale will support the already-strong presence that Guildford and the south-east have in the aeronautical and space industries, creating a centre of expertise for space technology. This will allow for the region to benefit from the Government’s commitment to invest in the UK space industry.


Astrium, a wholly owned subsidiary of EADS, is dedicated to providing civil and defence space systems and services. In 2007, Astrium had a turnover of EUR 3.55 billion and 12,000 employees in France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Spain and the Netherlands. Its three main areas of activity are Astrium Space Transportation for launchers and orbital infrastructure, and Astrium Satellites for spacecraft and ground segment, and its wholly owned subsidiary Astrium Services for the development and delivery of satellite services. In the UK, Astrium employs more than 2,500 space engineers, scientists and technicians.
EADS is a global leader in aerospace, defence and related services. In 2007, EADS generated revenues of EUR 39.1 billion and employed a workforce of more than 116,000.


Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL) develops innovative technologies to change the economics of space, delivering cost effective satellite missions within rapid timescales. SSTL employs 270 staff working on LEO and interplanetary missions, turnkey satellite platforms and space-proven satellite subsystems and optical systems. The Company also provides know-how transfer and training programmes and consultancy services, and performs studies for ESA, NASA and commercial customers related to platform design, mission analysis and planning.

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EADS Astrium Signs an Agreement to Acquire Surrey Satellite Technology Limited from the University of Surrey