DigitalGlobe eyes $304M IPO

At the same time last week that the National Venture Capital Association released its master strategy for reviving the moribund IPO market, a prominent private equity-funded company moved forward with plans for its IPO.

DigitalGlobe, the provider of high resolution satellite imagery used in sites such as Google Maps and Microsoft Virtual Earth, plans to raise up to $304 million in a 16.9 million share offering on the New York Stock Exchange, under the symbol DGI, according to a regulatory filing. The Longmont, Colo.-based company previously filed to go public in April 2008.

DigitalGlobe shares are set to begin trading on the NYSE on May 14. If DigitalGlobe’s IPO prices, it will become the fifth public offering in the United States this year, and the fourth with a technology flavor, following those of Chinese online videogame maker Changyou Ltd., online college operator Bridgepoint Education Inc. and language training company Rosetta Stone Inc., all of which priced in April.

DigitalGlobe owns and operates two imagery satellites it says are capable of collecting nearly 1 million square kilometers of imagery per day, an area greater than the combined land mass of France and Germany. It maintains an image library that houses more than 660 million square kilometers of high resolution earth imagery.

DigitalGlobe plans to launch WorldView-2, its third satellite, in September or early October. The satellite is expected to nearly double collection capabilities to almost 2 million square kilometers per day, enable intra-day revisits to a specific geographic area, and enhance its ability to collect up-to-date imagery in those areas of interest to customers.

The company posted revenue of $275 million in 2008, up from $152 million in 2007. Net income, however, dipped to $54 million from $96 million, on higher depreciation, marketing and administrative costs.

Morgan Stanley is the largest private equity shareholder in the company, with a 37% stake, pre-IPO. Other prominent stakeholders include Beach Point Capital (15% stake), Hitachi (7.6%), Ball Technologies Holding Corp. (6.4%), and GLG Partners (2.2%).

In addition to being the largest stakeholder, Morgan Stanley is also co-lead underwriter for the offering, along with J.P. Morgan, Citi, Merrill Lynch and Jefferies & Co. —Joanna Glasner