AsiaSat Eyes Potential Targets for Acquisition

by




WASHINGTON — Satellite fleet operator AsiaSat of Hong Kong is optimistic that one or more small fleet operators in Asia will be put on the auction block in the coming months as their owners balk at spending money to replace satellites nearing retirement.

Many Asian satellite operators were financed by governments whose motivations were as often political as financial. Several of these companies, now struggling with one or two satellites, have been unable to expand and are now facing deadlines as their existing satellites approach the end of their service lives. Whether their original government sponsors are willing to pay more than $200 million to build and launch replacement spacecraft is unclear, and it is here that AsiaSat Chief Executive Peter Jackson sees the potential for an acquisition.

“We thought a year ago that some of our competitors would have difficulty financing new satellites and that we would have an opportunity to buy them,” Jackson said March 15. “It didn’t happen when we thought, but the opportunity still exists.”

Jackson said one Asian satellite operator, which he declined to identify, “is having problems with its government and cannot finance another satellite.” But he said the strategy of the government in question is difficult to fathom. “You’d have to be a magician to figure it out,” he said.