Top Fixed Satellite Service Operators | No 4: Telesat

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Its Nimiq 6 and Anik G1 satellites now operational in orbit and generating revenue, and Anik G1 providing growth potential in Latin America — and no big capex commitments for now — Telesat is all dressed up and ready for a stock-market introduction or a sale.

Or not, depending on whether its owners, Canada’s PSP Investments pension fund and Loral Space and Communications of New York, can agree on a strategy to monetize their Telesat stakes.

Telesat has been managed conservatively, in part because its large debt load caused in part by its owners’ paying themselves a large dividend. But the company also performed one of the cleverest speculative investments of any of the major fleet operators when it decided to place an X-band payload on Anik G1.

Astrium Services of Europe eventually purchased the entire X-band payload for the satellite’s full 15-year life and will use it to fill a gap in X-band coverage Astrium Services offers to military and other government customers.

Telesat Chief Executive Daniel S. Goldberg has said the company will be able to order a replacement for the Telstar 12 satellite at 15 degrees west sometime this summer.

The coverage contours are not yet known. Russia Satellite Communications Co. of Moscow has priority frequency rights in that neighborhood and has committed to launching a satellite there in 2014.

It remains to be seen how Telesat will craft a business case at 15 degrees west without stepping on the Russian operator’s rights.

Until then, Telesat is showing growth prospects that are the envy of its immediate competitors — a 12 percent revenue increase for the first three months of 2013 compared to the previous year, and growth potential in South America on Anik G1.

Telesat settled a long-running dispute with Boeing Space and Intelligence Systems in mid-2012 over alleged “gross negligence” in Boeing’s manufacture of the Anik F1 satellite launched in 2000.

The lawsuit was closely watched by an industry that is unaccustomed to customer-manufacturer battles of this nature, but it ended in a fizzle. Industry officials said the settlement was basically nothing more than both sides agreeing to lay down their arms.