May 25, 2011 / 3:46 PM / 7 years ago

UPDATE 2-Final bids for EMS Tech due in 2 weeks-sources

* EMS Technologies seeks final bids around June 9-sources

* Remaining bidders all strategic, PE not involved-source

* Globecomm, Robertson, Sensis, IAP also for sale-sources (Adds other satellite, aerospace assets up for sale)

By Soyoung Kim and Nadia Damouni

NEW YORK, May 25 (Reuters) - EMS Technologies Inc ELMG.O, a wireless communications products maker that put itself up for sale under pressure from an activist investor, is seeking final bids in two weeks, four people familiar with the matter said.

Several private equity and strategic bidders -- meaning companies that operate in the same industry as the seller -- have shown interest in buying EMS, but bidding rounds have whittled the group down to strategic buyers only, one of these people with knowledge of the process said.

Final offers are due in the second week of June, around June 9, all of the people said this week, asking not to be identified because details of the auction are not public.

EMS hopes to reach a deal ahead of the company’s annual shareholder meeting, scheduled for June 30, a fifth source familiar with the matter said.

EMS, with a market capitalization of around $370 million, has drawn initial interest from companies that include Comtech Telecommunications Corp (CMTL.O) and Honeywell International Inc (HON.N), several people familiar with the matter have said. It is unclear whether those companies remain interested.

Activist investor MMI Investments LP, which owns a 7.8 percent stake in EMS, has demanded that EMS speed up the sale and in March nominated a slate of four directors to the board, to be voted on at EMS’ annual shareholder meeting.

An EMS spokeswoman declined to comment on the sale process. Representatives of Honeywell declined to comment while Comtech was not immediately available for comment.

Norcross, Georgia-based EMS, which said on April 19 it would seek strategic alternatives after months of pressure by MMI, said it has offered the New York-based hedge fund an opportunity to be involved in the sale process alongside the board.

Telecommunications equipment maker Comtech, which recently lost a major contract, is trying to use some of its $500 million in cash on takeovers and has been involved in a number of auctions, people familiar with the industry said. But Comtech has been reluctant to pay up for assets and lost out to rivals in several auctions, they said.

While the size of EMS is relatively small, it has segments catering to the aviation, defense, global tracking and logistics markets, potentially making it a challenge for one buyer to buy the entire company.

EMS’s LXE division makes hand-held and wearable computers for the logistics market -- which would not necessarily attract would-be aerospace and defense buyers interested in the EMS division that makes satellite aircraft communication products.

It was not immediately clear why private equity buyers are no longer involved in the process.

Some sources said that buyout firms without a strategic portfolio company -- and therefore no management team to begin with -- have been lukewarm due to the weak track record of the current EMS management. Private equity firms have also found it difficult to strike deals as valuations have increased and strategic bidders have become aggressive in pursuing deals.

    Shares of EMS Technologies rose 2.2 percent to $24.54 on Nasdaq.


    EMS Technologies is among a number of small to mid-cap companies that have been put up for sale in the aerospace and satellite industry in recent months.

    Earlier in May, Integral Systems ISYS.O, which provides controls for military ground systems and satellites, reached a $225 million deal to sell itself to Kratos Defense & Security Solutions. [ID:nNL4E7GG29]

    Meanwhile, Globecomm Systems GCOM.O, which provides hardware and software for satellite-based networks, has hired JPMorgan Chase (JPM.N) to run a sale process, people familiar with the matter said. The logical group of buyers could include Comtech and Harris Corp (HRS.N), they added. Globecomm has yet to set the date for initial bids, one of the sources said.

    Several private equity-owned aerospace and defense assets have also gone on the auction block, according to people familiar with the matter. Assets for sale include Robertson Fuel Systems, which is owned by American Securities and is working with Houlihan Lokey to find a buyer.

    Sensis Corp, which provides surveillance and information for the aviation and defense industries, is working with Moelis on a sale, and Consolidated Precision Products Corp (CPP) has retained Morgan Stanley and Lazard to run a sale process, people familiar with the matter have said. [ID:nN28290500]

    Meanwhile, Cerberus Capital Management [CBS.UL] is in the advanced stages of selling IAP Worldwide, which provides services for the U.S. and foreign governments overseas, and is being advised by Citigroup (C.N), sources said. The process has been limited to mostly strategic buyers, two people said.

    Representatives for Sensis, Robertson Fuel Systems and IAP could not be reached for comment. (Reporting by Soyoung Kim and Nadia Damouni; Editing by Gerald E. McCormick and Steve Orlofsky)

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