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Orbital tightens belt, looks for new X-34 partner
Posted: Tue, Apr 17, 2001, 2:51 PM ET (1851 GMT)
X-34 illustration Orbital Sciences Corporation, facing huge losses, said Tuesday it will accelerate plans to streamline the company by shedding non-core businesses. The company reported a loss of $228 million in the year 2000, far greater than the $105 million loss it recorded in 1999. Much of the loss was blamed on non-recurring charges, including a $113 million writeoff of its investment in ORBCOMM, a satellite communications company that filed for bankruptcy protection last year. To obtain the cash needed to keep the company operating, Orbital announced late Monday that it was selling its interest in Canadian aerospace company MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd. (MDA) to a Canadian investment group for $111 million. That deal, along with other divestitures of non-core businesses, will free up the capital needed to focus on its core businesses, including spacecraft and launch vehicles. The company also took a $19 million charge in its fiscal fourth quarter to cover costs associated with the termination last month by NASA of the X-34 program. In a conference call Tuesday morning Orbital president J.R. Thompson blamed the cancellation of the X-34 on NASA's inability to provide the Fastrac engine that was to power the X-34 as well as a more conservative attitude towards projects in the wake of recent failures. Thompson said that the company had discussed reviving the project with either the Air Force or an unspecified NASA field center.
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