Profile: Giuseppe Veredice

Chief Executive Officer


The July 2005 merger of the space operations of Finmeccanica of Italy and Alcatel of France created two companies: Alcatel Alenia Space, led by Alcatel and devoted to satellite and other space-hardware development; and Finmeccanica-led Telespazio of Rome, which is focused mainly on satellite services and ground stations.

Telespazio Chief Executive Giuseppe Veredice said the company expanded its business in 2005, and expects that activities related to satellite navigation and Earth observation will be its two biggest pillars of growth in the coming years. Telespazio also is one of several European organizations, government and industrial, that compete for the business of controlling satellites just after launch. It is a niche that most industry officials think would benefit from consolidation in the coming years.

Telespazio’s future government business will depend in part on the evolution of the Italian space agency’s national program. The company is responsible for the design and development of Italy’s first small scientific satellite, the Agile astronomy spacecraft, which is scheduled for launch on India’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle in late 2006. The Telespazio-provided ground control system for Agile will be located in Malindi, Kenya, with Telespazio responsible for two years of in-orbit operations. The company would expect to play a similar role in future Italian government spacecraft.

Veredice spoke with Space News staff writer Peter B. de Selding.

Telespazio’s 2004 sales were about 350 million euros ($417 million). How would you assess your performance in 2005?

Our financial results have not yet been announced. But I can say we closed the year with a positive growth trend. Thanks mainly to the Italian Cosmo-Skymed radar satellite program, we increased our backlog as well. We had a positive EBIT [pretax earnings] margin and the company is generating cash. So as a whole we are satisfied with the performance.

How big a role did Cosmo-Skymed play in your results?

This is obviously important for us. It’s a contract that for Telespazio represents about 230 million euros. We have full responsibility for the ground segment and this is what will be driving our Earth observation revenue line for the next three years.

Cosmo-Skymed is a dual-use program, with the Italian and French defense ministries having privileged access to the radar data. What role will Telespazio play in marketing the nonmilitary data?

A company called E-Geos is being formed and will be responsible for commercializing Cosmo-Skymed data. We expect to have between 70- and 80-percent ownership of this company, with the Italian space agency owning the rest. Our Earth observation revenues currently are around 50 million euros per year. With Cosmo-Skymed, this figure should rise to around 80 million euros per year. The first of the four Cosmo-Skymed satellites is on track for a late-2006 launch.

Cosmo-Skymed’s radar imagery will have a ground resolu tion of less than 1 meter. Will there be restrictions on sales of this data?

Right now we do not see any restrictions. Our focus will be to combine radar and optical data to deliver services, not just raw data, to users.

One of Telespazio’s historic specialties is satellite control services. Is this business growing?

In this business area our most important future business is with the Galileo satellite navigation constellation. Following the recent agreement reached among the principal governments and industrial players in Galileo, there will be a Galileo mission control center in Fucino, Italy . Telespazio is a shareholder in the Galileo consortium that will operate the system under a concession contract.

Telespazio is one of several entities in Europe that have developed expertise in controlling satellites during the launch and early orbit phase, or LEOP . Will Galileo play a role in this business?

Yes it will. We hope to consolidate our LEOP business and Galileo can certainly be a help, and perhaps also drive a reorganization of the business in Europe. But negotiations along these lines have yet to be completed.

What has changed since the Finmeccanica-Alcatel space merger, which resulted in Alcatel becoming a one-third shareholder of Telespazio?

We have centralized some of our engineering capabilities and we are paying more attention to marketing and sales. We were not well organized to compete in the international market, and the result is we have not been present there as much as we would like. I think the employees have a better idea now of what the company is doing and where it is going.

The European Space Agency and the European Union are joining forces on a program called Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES). What opportunities do you see there?

Some people speak of GMES as though they expect a new constellation of satellites to be built as part of it. A second approach says we start with existing satellites and then fill any data gaps with small spacecraft. We have been working on a project called EmercomSat, a civil protection satellite network, notably put into place in Turin for the Winter Olympics.

It assures broadband communications links in the event of a disaster, and can be used by fire departments and other emergency-response services in a fixed and mobile operation. This is an example of the kind of operational service that GMES could provide.

Telespazio has been working with Italy’s national rail network to provide broadband links and television programming on trains. Is this something that could become a sustainable business?

It shows promise and we have equipped two of the 60 trains planned, providing passengers with Internet broadband links and television through the satellite link. We are also bidding to provide similar service on the French rail network. A final business model needs to be worked out. For the time being we are concentrating on the technical aspects, including service reliability.