Rafael, Stolero complete acquisition of dronemaker Aeronautics

The NIS 850 million ($240m.) deal, expected to be finalized in the coming days, will see Rafael and Stolero hold equal shares of 50% in Yavne-based Aeronautics.

Aeronautics' Aerostar Tactical UAS (photo credit: AERONAUTICS)
Aeronautics' Aerostar Tactical UAS
(photo credit: AERONAUTICS)
Israeli defense giant Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and businessman Avihai Stolero have completed their acquisition of unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) manufacturer Aeronautics, the parties announced on Tuesday.
The NIS 850 million ($240m.) deal, expected to be finalized in the coming days, will see Rafael and Stolero each hold 50% shares in Yavne-based Aeronautics, which will delist from the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange.
Chaired by former Rafael president Yedidia Yaari, Aeronautics provides integrated turnkey solutions based on unmanned systems platforms, payloads and communications for defense and civil applications.
“We are proud and look forward to working with Aeronautics’ scientists and engineers who bring with them vast experience, knowhow and unique technologies, some of the world’s best,” said Rafael president and CEO Maj.-Gen. (Ret.) Yoav Har-Even. “Connecting those with Rafael’s technological richness, proven systems, infrastructure and resources, financial robustness, and most importantly, our excellent human capital, is a force-multiplier, guaranteed to be of high technological and strategic value in helping us to reach our goals. I would also like to thank all the people involved in the process, as well as our partner, Mr. Avihai Stolero.”
The final sum paid by Rafael and Stolero is almost double their initial offer for the company of NIS 430m. ($121m.), submitted in August 2018. The joint offer was sufficient to defeat Israel Aerospace Industries, which also held talks regarding possible investment in the company.
Aeronautic’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.
The acquisition, Rafael said, forms part of the company’s long-term strategy to evaluate and implement new areas of growth, including through the acquisition of unmanned platform companies. Prior to the acquisition, Rafael and Aeronautics announced a five-year cooperation agreement to develop, manufacture and sell advanced UAVs based on its existing range of Orbiter drones.
“I would like to express my gratitude and appreciation to the employees and management of Rafael and Aeronautics for their work and cooperation and for the successful completion of this acquisition process,” said Dr. Uzi Landau, chairman of the Rafael board of directors. “I wish us all the best of luck with our new future endeavors and challenges.”
Rafael, which employs approximately 8,000 employees, concluded 2018 with sales of nearly $2.6b., an order backlog of $6.78b. and a net profit of $133m. Approximately 45% of Rafael’s sales are intended for export to countries in Asia, Europe, North America, South America as well as Australia.