Eutelsat Buys In-orbit Satellite from GE Capital for $228M

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PARIS — Satellite fleet operator Eutelsat announced June 19 it is purchasing the in-orbit GE-23 telecommunications satellite from GE Capital for $228 million in cash.

In a conference call with investors, Paris-based Eutelsat said the satellite, launched in 2005, generates some $50 million a year in revenue. Eutelsat Deputy Chief Executive Michel Azibert said GE-23’s 20 Ku-band and 18 C-band transponders were about 80 percent occupied, and that the satellite had 8.5 years of remaining service life.

Eutelsat Chief Executive Michel de Rosen said GE-23, located at 172 degrees east longitude over the Pacific Ocean, will help bolster Eutelsat’s service offer in a region that is slated to be the focus of higher interest by the U.S. Defense Department.

“In the Far East, up to now, we have been a marginal player,” de Rosen said. “Recently we gave up on one [acquisition] opportunity because it was simply too expensive. … The trend in the region is positive. Recently we have been told by our customer in Washington that they plan to grow quite a lot in that part of the world, the Asia-Pacific.”

Eutelsat already does a thriving business with the U.S. Defense Department leasing satellite bandwidth over the Middle East. With U.S. defense authorities saying the Pacific Command will be a higher priority in the coming years, Eutelsat wants to be there for the expected demand surge.

In addition to the U.S. military business it could generate, GE-23 offers Eutelsat an entry into the growing market to provide broadband links to maritime markets. These markets already account for a disproportionate share of GE-23’s revenue, Azibert said.

Eutelsat is already expanding in the Asia-Pacific with the planned launch late this year of the Eutelsat 70B satellite into the 70.5 degrees east slot now occupied by the much smaller Eutelsat 70A.

 

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