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Aeroflex chairman McKeon suicide at 58

Aeroflex, the Plainview-based defense contractor, filed a notice with the Securities & Exchange Commission earlier this week that its chairman, Robert McKeon, died last week. A spokesman for the company said Tuesday a new chairman will be named within the next two weeks.

McKeon, 58, who was also a private equity executive, was found at his home in Darien, Conn. on Sept. 10, according to a report from the Darien Police Department. The cause of death was suicide, the Connecticut state medical examiner's office said.

Darien police said McKeon's death was not suspicious, but an investigation was ongoing pending the results of a toxicology report.

Hardware made by Aeroflex, a maker of high-tech communication equipment, is on the Mars rover Curiosity. Aeroflex has a stock market value of about $575 million. Its shares are down more than 30 percent year to date, and closed Tuesday at $6.82, up 4 cents.

McKeon was most well known in the financial industry as one of the founding partners of former boutique investment bank Wasserstein Perella & Co., which was based in Manhattan and Los Angeles and later acquired by the now-defunct Britain-based investment firm Dresdner Kleinwort. In 1992 McKeon founded private equity firm Veritas Capital, where he served as chairman until his death.

Veritas, which is located on Madison Avenue and has about $2.2 billion in assets under management, is known for its investments in defense contractors. It is currently run by its senior partners Ramzi Musallam, Hugh Evans and Benjamin Polk.

"We are all deeply saddened by this tragic loss and have his family in our thoughts," Veritas said in a statement. "We are continuing to oversee operations at Veritas and at our portfolio companies, consistent with our regular practice."

Veritas is the largest shareholder for Aeroflex, owning nearly 31 percent of the company -- a stake worth about $178 million based on the company's stock price Tuesday.

McKeon had been chairman of Aeroflex since 2007 and was also the chairman of a number of other public companies at the time of his death, according to data from Bloomberg. Evans and Musallam also sit on the board of Aeroflex.

McKeon was born in the Bronx and attended Fordham University and Harvard Business School. He began his career in finance at investment bank First Boston. He was a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

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