U.S. Ex-Im Bank Boosts Loan to AsiaSat

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PARIS — Satellite fleet operator AsiaSat of Hong Kong on June 3 said it had increased the amount of the loan it is seeking from the U.S. Export-Import Bank for the construction and launch of two telecommunications satellites to account for expected launch-insurance premiums.

In a filing with the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, AsiaSat said it was adding $37.3 million to the $306 million in loans it was seeking from the Ex-Im Bank to support the AsiaSat 6 and AsiaSat 8 satellite programs “to cover the insurance cost that may arise in relation to the launch” of the satellites.

Ex-Im, in a separate announcement June 3, said it had authorized the new total of $343.3 million in the form of a direct loan to AsiaSat.

The all-C-band AsiaSat 6 and the Ku/Ka-band AsiaSat 8 are both under construction by Space Systems/Loral of Palo Alto, Calif. They are scheduled for launch in 2014 aboard two Falcon 9 rockets operated by Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) of Hawthorne, Calif. Insurance brokerage Marsh USA of New York is arranging the insurance package for the satellites.

SpaceX has yet to announce a date for the inaugural flight of the Falcon 9 version to be used for its future commercial telecommunications missions, but the launch — carrying a Canadian scientific satellite into low Earth orbit — is expected to occur this summer.

Ex-Im said the business at Space Systems/Loral and SpaceX and other U.S companies working on the AsiaSat program would support 2,400 U.S. jobs, which is the key metric Ex-Im uses to determine whether to support a project.

Since the Oct. 1 start of the U.S. government’s fiscal year, Ex-Im has supported satellite and related services valued at $891 million, Ex-Im said, adding that it has been involved in the financing of 60 percent of the commercial U.S. satellites that were ordered in the past three years.