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MDA Inc., the maker of the Canadarm, has appointed a new chief financial officer with deep public markets experience in advance of an expected initial public offering that could come as early as the first half of this year.

The Canadian company announced on Monday that it has hired Vito Culmone, who has previously served as CFO at several large, publicly traded companies including Shaw Communications Inc., WestJet Airlines Ltd. and Molson Coors Beverage Co.

Most recently, Mr. Culmone was the CFO for Element Fleet Management Corp. He is to begin his new role at MDA, formerly MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates, in early March.

He was appointed as interest in the space sector heats up, particularly in a multibillion-dollar global race that includes Elon Musk’s Starlink and Canada’s Telesat to shoot thousands of communications satellites into the Earth’s lower atmosphere to provide internet service to millions from the skies.

MDA, a long-standing space robotics and radar supplier to the space business, stands to play a key role in the sector as a supplier of space communications technology.

Last week, Ottawa-based Telesat, which itself is planning to go public, announced it has chosen MDA to manufacture the phased array antennas for its constellation of low-Earth orbit satellites, dubbed Lightspeed, which will beam high-speed internet to remote areas.

MDA is also in advanced discussions with Telesat’s prime contractor, French-Italian manufacturer Thales Alenia Space, about completing the final assembly of the satellites in Quebec.

MDA was a part of Maxar Technologies Inc. until its $1-billion purchase last year from the heavily indebted space company by an investor group that includes John Risley’s Northern Private Capital, former BlackBerry Ltd. chairman and co-chief executive officer Jim Balsillie, Senvest Capital and the Fonds de solidarité FTQ.

The investors have said they expect MDA to one day be a public company again.

A source familiar with the company said MDA’s IPO could come as early as the first half of the year, although the plans are still not finalized. The Globe and Mail is not identifying the source because they are not authorized to speak publicly about the matter.

MDA declined to comment on the timing of a potential IPO.

Mike Greenley, MDA’s CEO, said in a statement he is thrilled that Mr. Culmone will be joining the company.

“He has earned a stellar reputation with investors and the broader capital markets and is a proven leader with abundant energy and a passion for growing businesses and building outstanding teams,” Mr. Greenley said in a statement Monday.

MDA is also working on a replacement for its Radarsat-2 satellite, which uses radar technology to monitor everything from the progress of climate change to illegal fishing. Late last year, the company was awarded a $22.8-million contract by the Canadian Space Agency to develop Canadarm3, an artificial intelligence-based robotic system that will service the U.S.-led space station, Lunar Gateway.

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