WASHINGTON — Alcatel Alenia Space increased its revenue by about 10 percent in 2006, to 1.65 billion euros ($2.16 billion), and on the strength of current and expected backlog expects to post 10 percent annual revenue gains in the next three years, according to the company’s president, Pascale Sourisse.
At that growth rate, which Sourisse said is double the expected 5 percent annual rate for the space-hardware industry as a whole, Alcatel Alenia Space would reach revenues of about 2.2 billion euros in 2009.
The French-Italian company, now owned 67 percent by Alcatel-Lucent and 33 percent by Finmeccanica, still expects its Alcatel-Lucent shares to be transferred to Thales Group in April following the sale’s approval by the European Commission’s antitrust authorities. Sourisse said Feb. 21 that Alcatel Alenia Space’s 2006 revenues were 41 percent commercial, 24 percent defense and 35 percent civil governmental. “This is exactly what we want it to continue to be, with commercial business representing around 41 percent of our activities,” Sourisse said.
Broken down by application, the company’s business is 50 percent telecommunications, meaning satellites, payloads and ground infrastructure for telecommunications projects; 19 percent Earth observation; 10 percent science; 10 percent ground equipment unrelated to the previous categories; 4 percent infrastructure and transport, mainly in the international space station and the Ariane 5 launcher programs; and 7 percent navigation, mainly Europe’s Egnos and Galileo projects.
By Sourisse’s count, 24 commercial telecommunications satellites intended for geostationary orbit were ordered following open competitions in 2006, with Alcatel winning seven of them — a 29 percent share. But these figures include the two Satcom Bw satellites for the German Defense Ministry, whose work Alcatel Alenia Space shares with Astrium Satellites. The German government did manage the procurement in a partially open way, but it was clear that Germany-based companies had the inside track.
Sourisse said the growing importance of mobile services in the commercial satellite market was highlighted by the fact that about a quarter of geostationary telecommunications satellites ordered in 2006 were wholly or partially devoted to serving mobile users. Alcatel Alenia Space’s participation in this segment of the market in 2006 included the W2A satellite contract with Eutelsat Communications of Paris, which includes an S-band mobile broadcasting payload financed by Eutelsat and SES Global of Luxembourg through a specially created joint venture.
Alcatel Alenia Space also was selected to build the 48 second-generation Globalstar low-orbiting satellites, with the first spacecraft to be delivered in late 2009.
Having developed a satellite design that is free of U.S.-built components and thus not subject to U.S. technology-export rules, Alcatel Alenia Space is the only U.S. or European satellite prime contractor that is capable of bidding for satellite telecommunications business anywhere in the world. Two satellites for China’s Chinasat broadcaster are scheduled for delivery this year using the no-U.S.-parts design.
The company forecasts that the global market for commercial geostationary satellites between 2007 and 2011 will come 40 percent from North America, 25 percent from Europe and Russia, 20 percent in the Asia-Pacific, 10 percent in the Middle East and Africa, and 5 percent in South America.
Sourisse said the Alcatel Alenia-built Sicral 1b military telecommunications satellite for the Italian Defense Ministry will be launched in the first half of 2008. She declined to say whether a Boeing Delta rocket had been selected for the satellite, but said a launcher contract had been signed.