Three groups -- one that includes Baltimore Orioles owner Eli Jacobs and another that includes the Washington-based Carlyle Group -- have submitted bids for Ford Aerospace, the space and defense company that includes BDM International of Northern Virginia, according to Ford officials and sources close to the negotiations.
Peter Pestillo, Ford Motor Co. vice president, said during a news conference opening labor union contract negotiations in Dearborn, Mich., that the company hopes to select one of the bids by next week. Sources said Ford may choose one of the bidders as soon as today, but it probably would take several additional days to work out final details.
Pestillo identified the three bidders as Loral Corp., a defense electronics company based in New York; a group composed of Westinghouse Electric Corp., the French aerospace group Aerospatiale and Carlyle, an investment firm; and another group composed of Hughes Aircraft Co., which is owned by General Motors Corp. and Alcatel N.V., a French telephone company.
Jacobs is part of the Hughes-Alcatel group, sources said.
Jacobs reportedly is interested in BDM, the 3,500-employee firm that tests weapons, conducts studies, writes software and sells other high-technology services to the government.
Ford Aerospace, which received $1.83 billion in contract awards last year, was put up for sale by Ford in January, after Ford soured on the defense business and decided it needed to concentrate its resources primarily on auto manufacturing.
In addition to BDM in McLean, Ford Aerospace has a space missions group in Seabrook, Md., and a Space Station Support Operation in Reston.
One source estimated that Ford probably will get about $600 million to $800 million in cash for Ford Aerospace. In addition, the source said the purchaser probably will assume some debts and obligations to employees, which could put the total value of the sale in excess of $1 billion. Ford's financial adviser, Goldman Sachs, had set a $1 billion target for the deal last January, according to Wall Street analysts and investment bankers.
A company spokesman declined to comment on the size or nature of the bids.
Loral and the Hughes-Alcatel-Jacobs group are planning to break up Ford Aerospace, while the Westinghouse-Aerospatiale-Carlyle group reportedly intends to operate Ford Aerospace as a unit, sources said.
Westinghouse reportedly would have the major management role for the Ford Aerospace group. A Westinghouse spokesman declined to comment, except to confirm that the company had submitted a bid.