Eutelsat Fleet Expansion Fuels Sales Growth

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PARIS — Satellite fleet operator Eutelsat on Nov. 5 reported an 11.6 percent increase in revenue for the three months ending Sept. 30, saying growth came from the launch this year of three new satellites and the resulting redeployment of five older satellites to new orbital slots.

In the latest demonstration that the large commercial satellite operators are feeling little pain from the poor economy in the Americas and Europe, Paris-based Eutelsat said all three of its business lines — video, data and military communications — showed substantial growth. Eutelsat is the world’s third-biggest commercial satellite fleet operator when measured by revenue, after Intelsat of Bermuda and Washington, and SES of Luxembourg.

Eutelsat’s data and military services are growing faster than the company’s core video business, which now accounts for 72 percent of Eutelsat’s total revenue. The video business used to be 75 percent or more of Eutelsat revenue and has slipped only in the sense that it is growing less quickly than the data and value-added division, which is devoted to cellular-backhaul and Internet connectivity in Africa, Central Asia and the Middle East, and what Eutelsat calls its “multiusage” division, principally devoted to military and other government communications.

The video business grew by 8.5 percent in the three months ending Sept. 30, to 180.8 million euros ($267 million). A key development behind this growth was the entry into service of the Atlantic Bird 4A satellite at 7 degrees west longitude, a slot that Eutelsat is developing in partnership with Nilesat of Egypt. Atlantic Bird 4A increased the number of transponders at this orbital location by 64 percent, to 247, as of Sept. 30.

Eutelsat’s data and value-added business increased by 17.8 percent during the period compared with a year earlier, to 47.7 million euros ($70.4 million). A key driver was the entry into service of the C- and Ku-band W2A satellite in May at the 10 degrees east slot covering Europe and Africa.

Multiusage revenue jumped by 46 percent, to 22.9 million euros ($33.8 million), in part because of the arrival at the 4 degrees east slot of the Eurobird 4A satellite, formerly called the W1. Eutelsat’s 4 degrees east longitude position gives the company good coverage of the Middle East and Central Asia, including Iraq and Afghanistan.

Eutelsat’s in-orbit expansion is scheduled to continue, with five satellites planned for launch before the end of 2011. One of them, the Ka-Sat, is an all-Ka-band satellite that will mark Eutelsat’s decision to enter the European consumer broadband market, a move that the company’s principal European competitor, SES, has declined to make.

The other four satellites all carry large Ku-band payloads, starting with the 70-transponder W7 spacecraft set for launch Nov. 23 aboard an International Launch Services Proton rocket. W7 will be placed at Eutelsat’s 36 degrees east slot, where it will double the capacity offered there by the W4 satellite.

Eutelsat is maintaining its forecast that revenue will grow by 7 percent for its fiscal year ending June 30, which would put revenue at just over 1 billion euros ($1.48 billion) for the year. Eutelsat has said its earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) would remain around 77 percent through 2012.