Eutelsat completes $373 million Hispasat divestiture

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WASHINGTON — French fleet operator Eutelsat finished a lengthy 302 million euro ($372.9 million) sale of its stake in Spanish fleet operator Hispasat after gaining long-awaited approval from Spain’s government.

The divestiture was first announced last May and expected to close that year, but required approval from Spain’s Council of Ministers, which didn’t occur until two weeks ago.

Hispasat on April 19 said that Eutelsat’s 33.69 percent stake was split between Spanish toll road company Abertis and the Spanish government’s Centre for the Development of Industrial Technology (CDTI).

Abertis gained 32.63 percent of Eutelsat’s stake, with the remaining 1.06 percent going to CDTI.

Eutelsat in the past had expressed interest in becoming a majority owner of Hispasat, but faced resistance from the Spanish government over foreign ownership. Hispasat is the majority owner of Spanish defense satellite operator Hisdesat in addition to running its own fleet of commercial telecom satellites.

Abertis now owns 89.68 percent of Hispasat and CDTI holds 2.91 percent. Spain’s state-owned industrial holding company Sociedad Estatal de Participaciones Industriales’s (SEPI) stake remains the same at 7.41 percent.

The five Eutelsat executives on Hispasat’s 19-person board of directors relinquished their positions to five Abertis executives, Hispasat said.

Eutelsat said April 18 that the Hispasat divestment was “in line with the Group’s strategy of rationalising its portfolio of assets in order to maximise cash generation.”

Hispasat generates nearly two thirds of its revenue from Latin America, and reported a profit of 80.5 million euros from 235 million euros in revenue for 2017. Eutelsat cemented its position in Latin America by acquiring Mexican fleet operator Satmex in 2014 for $831 million, a move that caught Hispasat officials off-guard.