ViaSat in Final Negotiations for $525 Million Ex-Im Loan

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PARIS — Satellite broadband hardware and services provider ViaSat Inc. on Nov. 7 said it is in final negotiations with the U.S. Export-Import Bank on a direct loan for up to $525 million to support the construction, launch and insurance of the ViaSat-2 broadband satellite.

The loan is notable for the fact that ViaSat-2 is being built by a U.S. company, Boeing Space and Intelligence Systems of El Segundo, California, and is slated to launch aboard a rocket built and operated by Space Exploration Technologies of Hawthorne, California.

In a conference call with investors, Carlsbad, California-based ViaSat said the final terms of the loan were still being negotiated but that the loan itself was agreed.

Ex-Im confirmed the transaction in the published minutes of a Sept. 29 meeting of its board of directors, which refers to a loan of $533.5 million to ViaSat Technologies Ltd. of Dorset, England, to be repaid over 8.5 years from the satellite’s launch. The company is a subsidiary of ViaSat and is described by the bank as the “end user” of ViaSat-2.

International Space Brokers of Arlington, Virginia, a veteran space insurance brokerage, will be negotiating the insurance cover for ViaSat-2.

“Transaction Approved,” Ex-Im said in characterizing the deal, adding that it received unanimous consent of the board of the bank, which is the export-credit agency of the United States.

The bank has become increasingly active in satellite financings in recent years and is now as active in the commercial satellite manufacturing and launch market as its French counterpart, Coface.

It is not the first time that Ex-Im has been asked to draw a creative line around what constitutes “export” and “import.” Iridium Communications of the United States, before its June 2010 selection of a Coface-backed bid from Thales Alenia Space of France and Italy to build 81 second-generation Iridium satellites, had been negotiating with Ex-Im and Lockheed Martin Space Systems of the United States for a similar package.