Defense giant Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and businessman Avihai Stolero made a joint offer to acquire Yavne-based unmanned aerial systems (UAV) manufacturer Aeronautics in a deal worth NIS 850 million ($231m.), the company announced on Sunday.Aeronautics received the offer on Saturday, the company said in a statement issued to the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange (TASE), to open negotiations for the acquisition of all the company’s shares by means of a reverse triangular merger via a company jointly owned by Rafael and Stolero. Upon the completion of the merger, Aeronautics’ shares will be delisted from the TASE and the company will become a private entity. The company’s shares soared by more than 30% in early TASE trading following the announcement.
Two weeks ago, Aeronautics announced a five-year cooperation agreement with Rafael to develop, manufacture and sell advanced UAVs based on its existing range of Orbiter drones.
In August 2018, Aeronautics rejected a NIS 430 million ($117m) deal from Rafael and Stolero for the acquisition of the company. Earlier this month, Israel Aerospace Industries said it was also holding initial talks regarding possible investment in the company.The offer, Aeronautics said, is subject to a diligence process to be concluded by February 15. The formulation of a binding merger agreement was approved by the directorates of the parties, who obtained all necessary legal authorizations and the company’s commitment to exclusivity in conducting the negotiations.The company’s leading UAV system – the Aerostar Tactical UAS – currently serves 15 customers on four continents and has racked up more than 250,000 operational flight hours since its first flight in 2001. Its systems have been in operation in conflict zones including in Iraq, Afghanistan, Chad and other African countries.Aeronautics is headed by chairman Yedidya Yaari, former president of Rafael and former commander of the Israeli Navy.