Belgian Export-credit Agency Backs $272M Eutelsat Loan

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PARIS — Belgium’s export-credit agency is backing 208 million euros ($272 million) in two low-interest loans to satellite fleet operator Eutelsat to finance the construction of one satellite and the purchase of a European Ariane rocket, Paris-based Eutelsat said.

In a May 7 financial statement, Eutelsat said Belgium’s Office National du Ducroire (ONDD) agreed to back an 11.5-year, 121-million-euro loan facility with an interest rate of 2.07 percent “to finance the construction of a satellite.”

A separate ONDD facility, also for 11.5 years but valued at 87 million euros, features an interest rate of 2.23 percent and will be used “to finance a launcher.” 

Eutelsat said May 13 that the launcher in question is an Ariane 5 heavy-lift vehicle, but that the vehicle may or may not launch the satellite that is the subject of the other loan.

Belgium’s Thales Alenia Space Etca, Sabca and TechSpace Aero S.A. all build parts for Ariane 5, but their total contribution, and their corresponding ownership of the Arianespace launch consortium, is only around 3 percent.

Export-credit agencies usually get involved to assure that their national industries get business that might otherwise head elsewhere. The amount of a given loan is typically associated with the amount of work on a given contract that will be performed in the lending country.

Eutelsat declined to respond to requests for additional information on the nature of the ONDD involvement.