Ultra Electronics delays Sparton acquisition timeline

British defense contractor Ultra Electronics said Friday it is pushing back the timeline for its acquisition of U.S.-based Sparton Corp. amid a new agreement with the Justice Department on new time targets for the steps required to close the deal.

Ultra will submit its paperwork to DOJ by Nov. 30 with a decision from the agency now expected at the end of March of next year. This update comes almost two months after Ultra said DOJ asked for additional information in order to evaluate the transaction under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976.

First announced in July, Ultra plans to acquire Sparton for nearly $235 million to create a more formidable player in the U.S. anti-submarine and underwater warfare markets.

The United States figures to be a key market for Ultra going forward as the company cautioned investors in a Friday update that there are “mounting pressures in the funding of U.K. (defense) programs” that has resulted in pauses, cancellations and delays on several programs and subsequently hit Ultra’s orders.

Ultra expects organic revenue to fall 4 percent for this year along with an 8-percent decline in underlying operating profit, the company said.

Also, Ultra CEO Rakesh Sharma left the company and its board of directors on Friday after what was described in a separate update as a "period of reflection" among the independent directors. Executive Chairman Douglas Caster, CEO of Ultra from 2005-2010, will lead the company on an interim basis until a successor is appointed.

Shares in Ultra listed on both the London Stock Exchange and U.S. over-the-counter markets traded 19 percent lower Monday.

The U.K.-based company has been an active acquirer of U.S. companies in the past decade. Some of its purchases include 3 Phoenix in 2014, Adaptive Materials in 2010,  and a portion of Kratos in 2015

About the Author

Ross Wilkers is a senior staff writer for Washington Technology. He can be reached at rwilkers@washingtontechnology.com. Follow him on Twitter: @rosswilkers. Also connect with him on LinkedIn.

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