October 29, 2014 / 1:30 PM / 5 years ago

Rocket explosion unlikely to hurt ATK-Orbital merger - analyst

Oct 29 (Reuters) - The explosion of Orbital Sciences Corp’s Antares rocket upon liftoff on Tuesday should not affect the company’s planned merger with Alliant Techsystems Inc , a Jefferies & Co analyst said.

An unmanned 14-story Antares rocket, built and launched by Orbital, exploded seconds after liftoff, marking the first accident since NASA turned to private operators to deliver cargo to the International Space Station.

Orbital’s shares were down 15 percent at $25.85 in premarket trading on Wednesday.

“While significant, the event should not upset the Orbital-ATK combination,” Jefferies analyst Howard Rubel wrote in a note.

An Orbital spokesman said the company would issue a statement shortly, but he declined to give details. Officials of Alliant, better known as ATK, could not be immediately reached for comment.

“There is no expectation that this will hinder the transaction,” a source familiar with the matter told Reuters. “This is an event that occurs in this industry.”

ATK said in April that it would spin off its sporting gun business and merge with Orbital.

The world’s largest maker of ammunition said late on Tuesday that it would seek shareholder approval on Dec. 9 for issuance of shares to Orbital stockholders.

ATK shares closed at $129.77 on the New York Stock Exchange on Tuesday. (Reporting by Sagarika Jaisinghani in Bangalore and Mike Stone in New York; Editing by Kirti Pandey)

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