Eutelsat Looks East as Purchase of GE-23 Closes

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PARIS — Satellite fleet operator Eutelsat on Sept. 25 said it had completed the purchase of the orbiting GE-23 satellite over the Pacific Ocean from GE Capital.

With a bit more than eight years of operational life remaining, the renamed Eutelsat 172A satellite will add to Eutelsat’s growing presence in East Asia, a region where the company hopes to serve, among others, the U.S. Defense Department and maritime broadband customers.

Paris-based Eutelsat announced the acquisition, for $228 million in cash, in June, saying the satellite’s 20 Ku- and 18 C-band transponders were operating at about 80 percent of capacity and generating some $50 million in annual revenue.

Eutelsat said it plans to take maximum advantage of the satellite’s flexibility. The Ku-band transponders can link to five interconnecting beams, while the C-band payload connects to a trans-Pacific beam.

In addition to the satellite and its existing customers, Eutelsat has purchased from GE Capital the rights to the satellite’s 172 degrees east longitude orbital position, “giving us an exceptional platform to serve dynamic markets in the region as well as headroom for further expansion,” Eutelsat Chief Executive Michel de Rosen said in a statement.

Also as part of its efforts to enhance its coverage of Asia, Eutelsat plans to launch the large Eutelsat 70B satellite late this year aboard a Sea Launch AG rocket. Once operational at 70.5 degrees east, it will replace the smaller Eutelsat 70A satellite currently there.