Eva Berneke to be Eutelsat’s next CEO

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TAMPA, Fla. — French satellite operator Eutelsat has appointed Eva Berneke, a technology and telecoms veteran from outside the space industry, to be the company’s next chief executive officer.

Berneke will take the reins Jan. 1 to replace Rodolphe Belmer, who announced plans in October to step down to join French IT and consulting company Atos.

She was the CEO of Danish IT and software company KMD, part of Japanese technology group NEC Corporation, before announcing plans to resign in March after seven years with the company.

Eva Berneke, incoming Eutelsat CEO.

Prior to KMD, Berneke had held several positions over around seven years at Danish telecoms operator TDC, including head of strategy and head of the company’s wholesale business division.

She currently sits on the boards of toymaker Lego, wind turbine manufacturer Vestas Wind Systems and Ecole Polytechnique, a French public institution of higher education and research.

While at KMD, Eutelsat said Berneke helped transform the Danish firm from a government service provider to a digital company that also competes in the private sector.

Dominique D’Hinnin, Eutelsat’s chair, said her “deep experience of both the telecoms and technology sectors” will aid the operator’s expansion into connectivity markets, amid a gradual decline in broadcast revenues for the satellite industry.

“Along with my Board colleagues, I am confident Eva is the right person to lead Eutelsat’s transition towards the connectivity businesses by executing its telecoms pivot and leveraging its investment in OneWeb,” D’Hinnin said in a statement.

Eutelsat became the second-largest shareholder of U.K.-based low Earth orbit broadband startup OneWeb under Belmer’s leadership, behind Indian conglomerate Bharti Global.

OneWeb is currently testing broadband services in Alaska after deploying more than half its planned 648-strong constellation, ahead of global services next year.

Eutelsat’s revenues fell 4.4% on a like-for-like basis to about 287 million euros ($324 million) for the three months to Sept. 30, 2021, compared with the corresponding period last year.

The operator said broadcast revenues were down 6.5% year-on-year amid ongoing pandemic-related effects.

However, fixed broadband revenues jumped 65% year-on-year on a like-for-like basis to 14.6 million euros, while mobile connectivity sales edged up 0.8% to just over 17 million euros.