PARIS — Startup Australian satellite operator NewSat Ltd. said June 18 it had received preliminary U.S. Export-Import Bank approval for a direct loan valued at $280 million to finance the construction of the Jabiru-1 satellite.

The company said this financing, coupled with an expected $100 million in backing from the French export-credit agency, Coface, will fully fund the construction and launch, in late 2014, of Jabiru-1.

NewSat said the export-credit agencies have set as a condition of their financing that NewSat raise $200 million in new equity, which the company said it will do through an issue of new shares to shareholders.

NewSat said the average interest it will pay on the $380 million in export credit-backed loans will be 2.5 percent. Repayment will not begin until Jabiru-1 is operational in orbit, and will stretch over 8.5 years.

Jabiru-1 will carry a mainly Ka-band payload to provide broadband links to corporate and government customers in the Middle East and both Northeast and Southwest Asia. The satellite’s total capacity is 8.1 gigahertz, of which 7.6 gigahertz is Ka-band and the rest is Ku-band.

The Export-Import Bank direct loan, which is pending the usual monthlong review by Congress, followed NewSat’s selection of Lockheed Martin Space Systems of Sunnyvale, Calif., as satellite prime contractor. Coface’s backing, which NewSat said should be confirmed in July, is a result of NewSat’s selection of European launch service provider Arianespace of France.

Southbank, Victoria-based NewSat has struck an agreement with satellite fleet operator Measat of Malaysia under which NewSat’s second satellite, Jabiru-2, will be a payload aboard the Measat 3b satellite, which like Jabiru-1 is scheduled for launch in 2014. Measat and NewSat each have agreed to lease about $180 million of each other’s capacity.

Jabiru-1 will operate in a Measat-registered slot at 91.5 degrees east longitude. Measat is responsible for coordinating the slot with international regulators.



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Peter B. de Selding was the Paris bureau chief for SpaceNews.