Revenue and Profits Up for Fleet Operator Telenor

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Norwegian satellite fleet operator Telenor Satellite Broadcasting, taking advantage of the first full year’s operations of the Thor 5 satellite, reported a 16.7 percent increase in revenue for 2009 and a return late in the year to previous gross-profit levels, Telenor announced Feb. 15.

Oslo-based Telenor’s Thor 5 satellite began commercial operations in mid-2008. The Thor 6 spacecraft, launched in October, did not enter service until December and made no contribution to Telenor’s 2009 revenue.

For the full year, Telenor Satellite Broadcasting reported revenue of 1.029 billion Norwegian kroner ($177.1 million at Dec. 31 exchange rates), up 16.7 percent over 2008. EBITDA, or earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, was 71 percent of revenue for the last three months of the year — the company’s average for the past two years — after dipping in the third quarter.

For the full year, Telenor Satellite Broadcasting reported an EBITDA margin of 69 percent. The year included costs associated with a contract with Orbital Sciences Corp. of Dulles, Va., to build a replacement Thor 6 spacecraft in the event the original model was lost in a launch failure. With Thor 6 healthy in orbit, that contract has been canceled, according to Telenor.

The company said continued deployment of high-definition television by television broadcaster Canal Digital in its core Nordic market helped drive growth. Telenor is expanding into Central and Eastern Europe and currently generates about one-third of its revenue outside the Nordic region. The company said it also saw strong demand in 2009 from maritime customers in the Nordic region and elsewhere in Europe. These are generally corporate VSAT, or very small aperture terminal, networks using Ku-band.

Telenor’s Thor 5 and Thor 6 operate from 1 degree west longitude. The company also has a share of Intelsat’s IS 10-02 satellite located at the same slot. Following the launch of Thor 5 in 2008, Telenor leased its Thor 2 satellite to SES of Luxembourg for use by SES Sirius of Sweden. Telenor officials said they hoped to conclude a similar transaction for Thor 3 now that Thor 6 is in service.

In a Feb. 17 response to Space News inquiries, Telenor said Thor 3 “will remain at 1 degree west until at least the end of [June] 2010, in line with the planned transition of traffic from Thor 3 to Thor 6, as well as to provide some operational flexibility at 1 degree west.”