Eutelsat buys Middle East broadcast customer Noorsat for $75 million

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WASHINGTON — Global fleet operator Eutelsat is buying Noorsat, a large satellite broadcaster that relied mostly on Eutelsat capacity to beam television channels across the Middle East.

The $75 million purchase fits what Eutelsat described as a “broader strategy of streamlining distribution within selected core video neighbourhoods where it can create value,” according to an Oct. 13 statement.

Eutelsat expects to generate $15 million in annualized revenues from Noorsat’s services that already rely on Eutelsat capacity.

Based in Bahrain with a regional office in Jordan, Noorsat markets capacity on five Eutelsat satellites — Eutelsat 8 West B, Eutelsat 7A, Eutelsat 25B, Eutelsat 3B and Eutelsat 21B — under the names Noorsat 7B, Noorsat 7, Noorsat 1, Noorsat 3B and Noorsat 4B, respectively. The company previously used Intelsat 15 as Noorsat 5.

Video broadcasts comprise roughly two-thirds of Eutelsat’s revenue, with channels transitioning from standard definition to high definition driving more demand for satellite capacity. Noorsat broadcasts more than 350 television and radio channels, but describes the Middle East as “lagging behind the rest of the world” in transitioning to HD.

“Of the 1,500 channels broadcasting in the region, less than three percent are doing so in HD, with many broadcasters deterred by the cost of investing in more capacity,” Noorsat said in statement last month.

Rodolphe Belmer, Eutelsat’s chief executive, said in July that stimulating HD uptake would be one of the company’s goals to re-establish positive revenue growth in 2019.

Noorsat estimated it reached over 50 million homes last year. Beyond content distribution, the company provides additional services such as playout, backhaul, and customer service.

One of Eutelsat’s main competitors, satellite fleet operator SES. made a similar, albeit larger acquisition of Israel-based RR Media in 2016 for $242 million, melding the broadcast and media services company with its SES Platform Services subsidiary to become MX1.