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Best Week, Worst Week: Lockheed gives Md. economy a boost in Middle River; McCormick spurned in British food bid

The Maryland economy got a shot in the arm this week with Lockheed Martin’s announcement that it is reopening a long-dormant production line at its Middle River facility while Sparks-based spice giant McCormick was spurned a second time in its bid to acquire a British food company.

Business writer Anamika Roy reported Thursday that the Bethesda-based global aerospace, defense, security and advanced technologies company expects to have between 150 and 200 employees and an extra 200 employees in support roles working on the manufacturing of the MK 41 Vertical Launching System, part of a $235.3 million contract with the U.S. Navy.

Both politicians and state officials at the facility’s ribbon-cutting event heralded the plant’s reopening as a sign of Maryland’s continued growth in manufacturing, building on gains made in the sector in 2015. Maryland manufacturers make up almost 6 percent of the state’s total output and employs nearly 4 percent of the state’s workforce, about 102,000 people. Approximately 25 more jobs will be created at the manufacturing facility over the next year.

Meanwhile, McCormick suffered strike two in its bid to acquire British food company Premier Foods PLC. Industry watchers say even though food giants such as the $12 billion McCormick pack a big punch financially, Premier would love to turn this negotiation dance into a full-blown bidding war.

Analysts see McCormick’s pursuit of Premier as consistent with its acquisition strategy under former CEO Alan Wilson, who stepped down earlier this year. His successor, Lawrence E. Kurzius, has pledged to continue that strategy, but to what end remains to be seen.

The timing of Premier’s announcement that it was being pursued by McCormick suggested that the spice maker wanted to keep the news under wraps for a little while longer. The London company announced that McCormick wanted to buy them when it was the middle of the night in Baltimore – a clear sign interpreted by some analysts that Premier wants a bidding war, a process that McCormick has not routinely taken historically.