Exclusive-ManTech's controlling shareholder explores sale -sources

(Reuters) - ManTech International Corp co-founder George Pedersen is exploring options for his controlling stake that include a sale of the U.S. defense contractor, which has a market value of more than $3 billion, people familiar with the matter said.

The deliberations are part of Pedersen’s estate planning, the sources said. Were the 85-year-old billionaire to pass away, the trust that holds his 32% stake in ManTech would no longer exercise voting control, according to regulatory filings.

Goldman Sachs Group Inc has been retained to explore a sale of ManTech, the sources said. The investment bank has reached out to ManTech’s peers such as Parsons Corp and Leidos Holdings Inc, as well as private equity firms, to gauge potential acquisition interest, the sources added.

The sources requested anonymity to discuss confidential deliberations and cautioned that no decision on a sale of ManTech has been made.

A ManTech spokesperson said the company does not comment on rumors, while spokespeople for Goldman Sachs and Leidos declined to comment. A Parsons spokesperson did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

ManTech shares rose as much as 8% on the news. They ended trading on Thursday up 1.4% at $73.86.

The outlook for mergers and acquisitions in the defense sector is uncertain after the U.S. Federal Trade Commission said last week it would sue to block arms maker Lockheed Martin’s proposed $4.4 billion purchase of rocket engine maker Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings Inc over antitrust concerns. The companies are now deliberating on whether to walk away or defend their deal in court.

Based in Herndon, Virginia, ManTech performs defense and non-defense contracting services for the intelligence community, the Pentagon and other government agencies. It has 9,400 employees.

A return to normal following the COVID-19 pandemic has been slow in the intelligence community, ManTech said in November. It said it delivered “exceptional” profitability and cash flow in the third quarter, but revenue growth in bookings fell short of expectations.

Pedersen co-founded ManTech in 1968 and sits on its board of directors.

Reporting by Mike Stone in Washington and Greg Roumeliotis in New York; Editing by Matthew Lewis