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Leidos to buy Cobham Special Mission unit

Cobham Aviation Services Australia's Special Mission business operates a fleet of aircraft, including Bombardier Challenger CL604 business jet. (Cobham Aviation Services)

US-based government technology provider Leidos plans to expand its presence in an important overseas market by acquiring Cobham Aviation Services Australia's Special Mission business for AUD310 million (USD215 million), the buyer announced on 2 August.

The Special Mission business performs airborne border surveillance and search-and-rescue for Australia's federal government. It employs about 380 people and owns and operates 14 modified aircraft. It will become part of Leidos Australia, which employs more than 1,400 people.

“Australia has always been a traditionally strong market for us,” Leidos chairman and CEO Roger Krone told analysts. “Growing more in Australia is definitely a priority for us.”

Leidos expects to close the transaction by the end of 2022 after receiving regulatory approval.

Leidos has made several other acquisitions in the past few years, including naval ship design business Gibbs & Cox, information technology provider 1901 Group, defence technology company Dynetics, and L3Harris Technologies' airport security and automation business.

Although Cobham did not say why it is divesting the Special Mission business, it has sold several other businesses since 2020 as part of a portfolio reshaping effort. Cobham recently acquired fellow UK-based business Ultra Electronics to create a “global defence electronics champion”.

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