Hellas Sat Secures Orbital Slot for 20 More Years

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PARIS — Greece’s Hellas Sat has secured rights to an additional 20 years’ use of the 39 degrees east longitude orbital slot following an agreement with the government of Cyprus, a milestone that industry officials said could pave the way to the company’s long-expected sale.

Hellas Sat Consortium Ltd. of Athens said it finalized an agreement with Cyprus on July 2 at a ceremony in Nicosia. In addition to securing a place for an eventual successor to the Hellas Sat 2 satellite, which operates at the 39 degrees east slot, the accord will “enable the company to expand its commercial operations with additional satellite services through the activation of additional spectrum,” Hellas Sat said in a July 3 statement.

Greek telecommunications operator OTE, which owns the satellite operator, has long said it would be open to selling Hellas Sat to focus on its core telecommunications business.

Among the potential buyers is satellite fleet operator SES of Luxembourg, which has indicated that adding Hellas Sat and its orbital slot to its stable of holdings would make sense — if the price is right.

Hellas Sat 2 was launched in May 2003. It carries 30 Ku-band transponders plus eight spare transponders and as of Dec. 31 was 96 percent booked, Hellas Sat said.

The satellite generated revenue of 32.8 million euros ($42 million) in 2011, up 8.9 percent from the previous year. EBITDA, or earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, was 71 percent of revenue, the company said.

Net profit, at 11.3 million euros, was up 17.4 percent from 2010.

The July 2 agreement with the government of Cyprus gives Hellas Sat access to the orbital slot and the frequencies assigned to it by the International Telecommunication Union until 2041, Hellas Sat said.

The company did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the amount of bandwidth it now has available to it under the Cyprus registration.