Highlander Partners Acquires Drone-Countering Liteye Systems

Liteye develops, integrates, and manufactures Counter Unmanned Aircraft Systems that neutralize hostile drone threats. The acquisition follows Highlander's forming of High Point Aerotechnologies, which focuses on the rapidly evolving C-UAS and UAS industries.

Dallas-based private equity firm Highlander Partners LP has acquired Liteye Systems Inc., a multi-mission defense company that develops, integrates, and manufactures Counter Unmanned Aircraft Systems designed to neutralize hostile drone threats.

The rise of drone activity has created an immediate need for sophisticated C-UAS systems and solutions to protect against threats to people and critical civilian and military infrastructure, as well as conduct military and national security operations, according to Highlander.

No financial terms were disclosed.

High Point formed to focus on fast-evolving C-UAS and UAS industries

Earlier this year, Highlander formed High Point Aerotechnologies LLC, a division established specifically to focus on and pursue the rapidly evolving C-UAS and UAS industries.

“We’ve dedicated substantial resources to exploring opportunities across the unmanned aircraft spectrum,” Highlander Partner Ben Slater said in a statement. “Liteye has emerged as a clear leader in the nascent and critical C-UAS space, and we believe that Highlander and High Point are well-equipped to support Liteye as it continues building on its strategic position as a provider of leading technology. We anticipate that Liteye will be the first step in establishing a larger platform and intend to pursue additional M&A in the space.”

Liteye, which has long-term relationships with U.S. and international government agencies, was founded in 2000 with a focus on selling thermal cameras and head-mounted displays to military and law enforcement agencies. In 2015, Liteye shifted its focus to C-UAS technologies.

Liteye’s “SkyWall Auto” — part of the company’s UAS defense solutions— was deployed to help protect world leaders at the 2022 G7 Summit in Germany. [Image: Liteye]

The company has since become a leading manufacturer and integrator of C-UAS systems that detect, identify, track, and disrupt hostile unmanned aircraft. It operates as an integrator of best-in-class technology through exclusive strategic partnerships, therefore offering highly configurable and hardware-agnostic systems that are customized to fit mission objectives and customer requisites, Highlander said in a statement. This modular approach eliminates hardware dependencies and facilitates technology upgrades to ensure that Liteye’s systems are always equipped with the latest cutting-edge technologies, the company said.

High Point’s goal: to create a global leader

High Point’s goal is to create a global leader in these high-growth categories through the acquisition of established operating companies, emerging technologies, and industry experts, Highlander said.

High Point is led by former senior special ops officer Jim Gavrilis and has made significant progress, the company said.

The High Point team consists of leaders with backgrounds in defense, government, and technology, each of whom will assist Liteye in its growth initiatives.

“The Liteye executive team is thrilled to join forces with Highlander to continue the growth of our multi-mission C-UAS platforms, built around protecting lives and critical infrastructure,” Liteye co-founders Kenneth Geyer and Tom Scott said in a statement. “We feel that the need for advanced C-UAS is more pressing than ever, and we believe that High Point and the broader Highlander team bring the necessary government and military relationships, industry experience, and long-term financial approach to support us in driving Liteye and the C-UAS industry forward.”

Jeff L. Hull, president and CEO of Highlander, said that Liteye’s approach is an industry leader.

“Despite meaningful private and public investment, many of today’s C-UAS solutions lag advancements in offensive drone technology. However, Liteye’s system of systems approach and technology provide a leading solution to the market compared to many other C-UAS platforms,” he said. “Needless to say, we are impressed with what Kenneth, Tom, and the rest of the Liteye team have built, and we look forward to working together with them to take the company to new heights.”

Highlander Partners has roughly $3 billion of assets under management. It focuses on making investments in businesses in targeted industries in which the principals of the firm have significant operating and investing experience.

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