AsiaSat Revenue Up; Chief Executive Officer To Retire

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PARIS — Satellite fleet operator AsiaSat of Hong Kong on March 26 reported increases in both revenue and profit for 2009 and also announced that its chief executive, Peter Jackson, will be leaving that post July 31 to become the company’s executive chairman.

Jackson will be replaced by William Wade, currently AsiaSat’s deputy chief executive, AsiaSat Chairman Sherman P. Dodge said in a statement to shareholders. Jackson will stay on as executive chairman for one year, the company said in a press release.

Jackson’s last full year proved better than AsiaSat had predicted in early 2009, as the company increased its satellites’ fill rate while also boosting its on-orbit capacity. For the full year, revenue was 1.16 billion Hong Kong dollars ($150 million at year-end exchange rates), up 13 percent over 2008. After one-time revenue is excluded, the increase was 12 percent.

Profit, at 525.2 million Hong Kong dollars, was up 8 percent, or 7 percent after subtracting one-time revenue effects. “We expect these positive trends to continue throughout 2010,” Dodge said in the statement.

AsiaSat, which launched AsiaSat 5 in August, said it had 85 transponders commercially available at the end of 2009, up from 76 transponders a year earlier. But despite the increase in total capacity, the company’s fleet-wide fill rate increased to 65 percent, compared with 60 percent a year earlier.

AsiaSat 5, which replaced the aging AsiaSat 2 satellite at 100.5 degrees east longitude, was 54 percent full at the end of 2009, having taken over the AsiaSat 2 traffic. AsiaSat 4, launched in 2003 to the 122 degrees east slot, was 68 percent full at the end of 2009, compared with 58 percent a year earlier. AsiaSat 3S, at 105.5 degrees east, was 71 percent full, up from 69 percent a year ago, the company said.

The fill rate figures do not take into account the fact that AsiaSat 2 was leased to Spacecom of Israel and moved to Spacecom’s 17 degrees east orbital slot over Africa, where it has been renamed Amos-5i.

Speedcast, a two-way satellite-broadband provider that AsiaSat purchased in 2007, reported a 44 percent increase in revenue, to 170 million Hong Kong dollars. Speedcast’s profit also soared, to 14 million Hong Kong dollars compared to 700,000 Hong Kong dollars the previous year.

The AsiaSat 7 satellite under construction at Space Systems/Loral in Palo Alto, Calif., scheduled for launch in late 2011, may be placed at 105.5 degrees to replace AsiaSat 3S. Alternatively, the satellite could be used to open a new orbital slot for business expansion, AsiaSat said.

AsiaSat has no debt and as of Dec. 31 had 1.5 billion Hong Kong dollars in cash and equivalents. Jackson has said the company remains on the lookout for an acquisition in Asia.