Ball Corp. sells off its aerospace division in multibillion-dollar deal

DigitalGlobe New Satellite
Brennan Linsley/AP Photo
Technicians and scientists work in a clean room as the finals tests are performed on WorldView-3, right, a new high-resolution imaging satellite owned by commercial satellite company DigitalGlobe, at Ball Aerospace in Boulder, Colo., on Tuesday, May 13, 2014. The initial launch window is Aug. 13-14. From its planned orbit of about 383 miles, the satellite will be capable of capturing images of objects as small as 1 foot across, although government security regulations prevent the company from selling images with resolution finer than about 20 inches.

Ball Corp., the Westminster-based manufacturer, completed a $5.6 billion deal to sell its aerospace and technology division to British aerospace company BAE Systems.

Ball Aerospace will now operate as a new division within BAE called Space & Mission systems. The deal adds more than 5,200 U.S. employees to BAE, the company said in a statement announcing the deal is complete. 

Ball Corp. will use the proceeds from the sale to pay down debt and buy back shares on Wall Street, chief financial officer Howard Yu said in a statement. Ball executives said the deal will allow them to focus on their core aluminum businesses when the sale was announced last summer. 

Ball, once famous for its glass jars, got into the aerospace business in 1956 at the beginning of the space race. Now the company is the largest supplier of aluminum cans and other household products in the world.

It was given the naming rights to what was once known as the Pepsi Center in 2020 in a deal with Kroenke Sports, and now the Denver Nuggets and Colorado Avalanche play at the Ball Arena.