Terran Orbital CEO tells staff it is not looking for a buyer

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Terran Orbital CEO Marc Bell told employees Monday the company is not looking for a buyer in an effort to quash a report that it was seeking bids by the end of the month, according to sources who spoke to TechCrunch. Bell’s comments came during an all-hands meeting with staff, following a Wall Street Journal article stating that the satellite manufacturer was up for sale.

In a separate email simply titled “WSJ,” which was sent to all staff, Bell said the WSJ got the story “very wrong” and “we are working with them to correct.”

“My goal is to keep us independent and turn us into a Prime. Nothing has changed.”

He also had some incendiary words for the group of investors, which collectively represents around 8% of Terran shares, who are leading a charge to have Bell replaced and the board reconstituted:

“As for shareholder criticism the whole thing is a joke,” he says in the email. “Forget that the board and management has over 30 million shares (they have 16 million) but we have polled investors casually and over 100 million shares say they approve of the direction we are taking and fully support us. We also have 100% support of the board. The company recently sued one of the Sophis idiots and we will be suing them all in due course. They will eventually go away.”

The final two lines refer to the investor group, led by Sophis Investments, and a recent suit Terran brought against Austin Williams (its former CTO) and one of the founders of Tyvak Nano-Satellite Systems, the company that now makes up the bulk of Terran’s business.

“We are not looking for a buyer,” Bell said, according to sources who were at the meeting. Instead, he told staff that if the board (which he chairs) decided on a take-private deal, Bell and his longtime business partner Dan Sid would buy the company themselves.

Bell did say that the company is looking for strategic investors, similar to Lockheed Martin — a sizable investor in the company and a main customer.

Terran Orbital did not respond to TechCrunch’s request for comment. TechCrunch will update the article if Terran Orbital responds.

His statements contradict a regulatory filing posted Monday by Terran Orbital. In that filing, the company confirmed that it was engaged in a “formal review of strategic alternatives to maximize shareholder value,” a process that could include sale of the company, among other outcomes.

The news caused Terran’s stock price to crater, with the value per share falling around 25% — from $1.03 at yesterday’s close to around $0.77 as of publication. The company’s shares have been teetering below a dollar almost consistently from the end of August; the company faces the looming threat of delisting if it is unable to raise its stock price.

It’s a precipitous fall for the company, which was trading at $10.96 after going public in March of last year.

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