TAMPA, Fla. — Steve Collar announced plans June 12 to step down as SES CEO at the end of the month after more than 20 years with the multi-orbit satellite operator.

SES chief technology officer Ruy Pinto, a former chief operating officer at Inmarsat who joined SES in 2017, is taking the company’s reins until it can find a permanent successor.

Luxembourg-based SES said in a news release that Collar is leaving to pursue other professional and personal endeavors — without elaborating. 

Despite his sudden departure, SES vice president of external communications Suzanne Ong said Collar plans to remain fully available to the company beyond June 30 to support a smooth transition.

“He won’t be taking up a new position in the satellite industry any time soon,” Ong added via email.

The operator’s share price fell more than 13% on the news in early trading. The shares are currently trading at around 5 euros, down about 40% from where they were a year ago. 

SES shares were trading above 12 euros in early 2020 before the pandemic disrupted financial markets and the demand for mobile connectivity in cruise and other industries.

Collar became CEO of SES in 2018 after heading its connectivity-focused division, an increasingly important part of the company’s business amid a decline in satellite TV.

He had previously served as CEO of O3b Networks, the medium Earth orbit (MEO) broadband operator that SES fully took over in 2016 to add lower latency services to its geostationary fleet.

SES has more than 70 satellites across MEO and geostationary orbit. 

SES has been planning to deploy initial services this summer from its upgraded MEO network following an upcoming launch of two more O3b mPower satellites.

Boeing was at one point preparing to ship the fifth and sixth of 11 O3b mPower satellites it is building for SES in May for a SpaceX launch in early June.

However, Ong said the satellites are still at Boeing’s manufacturing facilities in El Segundo, California, so they can complete further tests before being sent to SpaceX’s launchpad in Florida. 

SES has not provided an updated launch window for the satellites.

The first two O3b mPower satellites are undergoing testing and integration in MEO with the operator’s existing 20 first-generation O3b satellites, Ong said, while the second pair are still in their orbit-raising phase as expected following their April 28 launch.

Each O3b mPower satellite is designed to scale up to multiple gigabits per second of throughput, roughly 10 times more than their predecessors.

Separately, SES said it remains on track to claim around $3 billion in spectrum clearing proceeds in December after deploying all the satellites needed to migrate broadcast customers into a narrower swath of C-band.

“It has been the greatest honour of my life to lead the incredible people at SES,” Collar said in a statement, adding that with mPower launching, “the company performing well and C-band all but delivered, the future is bright, and I wish the Board and everyone at SES every success.”

Collar’s departure also comes amid early talks about potentially merging SES with rival Intelsat, following a spurt of satellite operator consolidation that saw Inmarsat complete its sale to Viasat May 30.

SES recorded total revenues up 9.6% year-on-year to 490 million euros ($528 million) for the three months ending March 31, helped by sales from Leonardo DRS Global Enterprise Solutions (GES), a satcoms provider to the U.S. government acquired last year.

Adjusted EBITDA, or earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization, dropped 3.2% to 265 million euros.

Jason Rainbow writes about satellite telecom, space finance and commercial markets for SpaceNews. He has spent more than a decade covering the global space industry as a business journalist. Previously, he was Group Editor-in-Chief for Finance Information...