Rafael, Stolero of­fer $231 mil­lion for Is­raeli drone maker Aero­nau­tics

The Jerusalem Post - - NEWS - • By EYTAN HALON

De­fense gi­ant Rafael Ad­vanced De­fense Sys­tems and busi­ness­man Avi­hai Stolero made a joint of­fer to ac­quire Yavne-based un­manned ae­rial sys­tems (UAV) man­u­fac­turer Aero­nau­tics in a deal worth NIS 850 mil­lion ($231m.), the com­pany an­nounced on Sun­day.

Aero­nau­tics re­ceived the of­fer on Satur­day, the com­pany said in a state­ment is­sued to the Tel Aviv Stock Ex­change (TASE), to open ne­go­ti­a­tions for the ac­qui­si­tion of all the com­pany’s shares by means of a re­verse tri­an­gu­lar merger via a com­pany jointly owned by Rafael and Stolero.

Upon the com­ple­tion of the merger, Aero­nau­tics’ shares will be delisted from the TASE and the com­pany will be­come a pri­vate en­tity. The com­pany’s shares soared by more than 30% in early TASE trad­ing fol­low­ing the an­nounce­ment.

Two weeks ago, Aero­nau­tics an­nounced a five-year co­op­er­a­tion agree­ment with Rafael to de­velop, man­u­fac­ture and sell ad­vanced UAVs based on its ex­ist­ing range of Or­biter drones.

In Au­gust 2018, Aero­nau­tics re­jected a NIS 430 mil­lion ($117m) deal from Rafael and Stolero for the ac­qui­si­tion of the com­pany. Ear­lier this month, Is­rael Aero­space In­dus­tries said it was also hold­ing ini­tial talks re­gard­ing pos­si­ble in­vest­ment in the com­pany.

The of­fer, Aero­nau­tics said, is sub­ject to a dili­gence process to be con­cluded by Fe­bru­ary 15. The for­mu­la­tion of a bind­ing merger agree­ment was ap­proved by the di­rec­torates of the par­ties, who ob­tained all nec­es­sary le­gal au­tho­riza­tions and the com­pany’s com­mit­ment to ex­clu­siv­ity in con­duct­ing the ne­go­ti­a­tions.

The com­pany’s lead­ing UAV sys­tem – the Aerostar Tac­ti­cal UAS – cur­rently serves 15 cus­tomers on four con­ti­nents and has racked up more than 250,000 op­er­a­tional flight hours since its first flight in 2001. Its sys­tems have been in op­er­a­tion in con­flict zones in­clud­ing in Iraq, Afghanistan, Chad and other African coun­tries.

Aero­nau­tics is headed by chair­man Ye­didya Yaari, for­mer pres­i­dent of Rafael and for­mer com­man­der of the Is­raeli Navy.


THE AERO­NAU­TICS Aerostar Tac­ti­cal UAS.

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