Surveillance equipment manufacturer Wescam seeks a buyer, other options

Saturday, June 1, 2002

BURLINGTON, Ontario-Wescam, a manufacturer of high-end surveillance equipment, is considering selling. It's a move that company officials expect will help the company expand.

The company recently hired Quarterdeck Investment Partners to explore its options, a reversal of when Wescam hired Quarterdeck four months ago to look for companies for it to buy.

"We need to grow in the U.S.," said Mark Chamberlain, president and chief executive officer of Wescam. "Our first choice, from a strategic option, would be to buy somebody, but that's not likely to happen because the multiples of U.S. companies are high."

The company, known for its high end surveillance equipment used from aircrafts and that work wirelessly, is based in Canada, but also operates a manufacturing plant in Healdsburg, Calif. and an engineering facility in Odenten, Md. A lens manufacturing plant is located in Toronto, while two service outlets are in Van Nuys, Calif. and Melbourne, Fla.

Together Wescam employs 450 people and reports revenues of more than $100 million.

Chamberlain said a sale may be what the company, owned by management since 1997, needs to take it to the next level. And the company is not alone in looking for partners.

Other manufacturers of defense and surveillance related products are also looking to position themselves better and talking to companies. That includes partnerships, acquisitions and joint ventures, said Chamberlain.

The reason, he said, is the recent increase in U.S. defense budgets and consolidations in the industry.

It could take six to 12 months for Wescam to find a buyer, if it's able to locate one at all. If one is not located within that timeframe, said Chamberlain, the company will not likely take that route.