U.S. Ex-Im Bank Gives Hispasat $87M Loan Guarantee for Orbital Sciences Satellite

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PARIS — The U.S. Export-Import Bank, which is coming off a record-breaking year for loans to satellite projects, on Jan. 18 said it had approved an $87.1 million loan guarantee for a subsidiary of Madrid-based Hispasat to purchase a satellite built by Orbital Sciences Corp. of Dulles, Va.

The loan for this Hispasat 4A telecommunications spacecraft is the latest in a series of transactions in which the Ex-Im Bank backs a satellite’s construction and the bank’s French counterpart export-credit agency, Coface, supports the satellite’s launch on a European Ariane 5 rocket.

The Spanish operator has conducted two previous transactions with the Ex-Im Bank, both for satellites built by Space Systems/Loral of Palo Alto, Calif. The most recent deal for Hispasat 4A is likely to be followed by a financial package in support of the Hispasat 4B satellite, which Hispasat ordered from Orbital at the same time as it placed the Hispasat 4A order.

The Hispasat 4B satellite may employ a new, more-powerful Orbital platform, but its final configuration has not been settled.

The Ex-Im Bank said the transaction will support 600 U.S. jobs.

The U.S. export-credit agency appears to be making up for lost time after having been criticized by industry for being less aggressive than Coface in contract competitions that ultimately went to European or Asian competitors. China’s export-credit agency has also become a regular player in the telecommunications satellite industry.

The Ex-Im Bank accelerated its satellite-sector support in fiscal year 2012, agreeing to provide $1.4 billion in loans. The bank said it had already concluded satellite financings totaling $516.9 million for the first three months of fiscal year 2013.