NEW YORK – Satellite fleet operator ABS of Hong Kong has contracted with Space Systems/Loral to build the triple-frequency ABS-2 satellite for launch in 2013, ABS and Space Systems/Loral announced Oct. 13.

The contract, which had been put on hold for over a year as the fast-growing Asia Broadcast Satellite (ABS) company sought to close the financing, comes one month after private-equity investor Permira Advisers agreed to purchase a majority stake.

ABS-2, to be operated at ABS’s 75 degrees east longitude orbital slot, will carry 87 transponders in C-, Ku- and Ka-band distributed over 10 beams aimed at zones in the Middle East, Africa, Central Asia and the Asia-Pacific region.

The ABS-1 satellite is already stationed at that slot but is more than 90 percent booked, ABS said in an Oct. 13 statement. The ABS-1A and ABS-1B satellites co-located at that slot are not sufficient to meet what ABS has said is continued robust demand for bandwidth from an orbital location that offers a footprint over a large group of markets. ABS-2 also will provide ABS customers with in-orbit backup in the event of a problem on one of the spacecraft now at that orbital slot.

In remarks made in September to a financial conference, ABS Chief Executive Thomas Choi said the company had about $60 million in revenue in 2009 and had a compound annual growth rate of 55 percent since 2007. In 2010, he said, the company was targeting another double-digit revenue increase from its 133 in-orbit transponders on four satellites.

ABS officials have said in the past that they were seeking financing from the U.S. Export-Import Bank to cover the satellite’s construction, and from the French export-credit agency, Coface, to guarantee loans for a launch by Europe’s Ariane 5 ECA rocket, operated by the Arianespace launch consortium of Evry, France.

The Oct. 13 announcement did not specify the ABS-2 capacity by frequency band. As described by ABS in the past, ABS-2 would have nearly 7.6 gigahertz of throughput delivered to 48 Ku-band, 34 C-band and five or six Ka-band transponders.

Choi said during the September conference that ABS-2 would cost about $320 million, including its construction, launch and insurance, of which $120 million would come from the company’s cash flow and $150 million from leasing ABS-2 capacity to other satellite operators in a so-called condosat arrangement. The final $50 million in ABS-2 costs would come from additional equity and debt.

Choi said ABS would top $200 million in annual revenue within a year of ABS-2’s start of operations.


Peter B. de Selding was the Paris bureau chief for SpaceNews.