SES teleport
A teleport from SES, which confirmed it is considering a merger with Intelsat in March. Credit: SES

TAMPA, Fla. — SES confirmed March 29 it is in talks about potentially merging with rival satellite operator Intelsat. 

“At this stage, there can be no certainty that a transaction would materialise,” SES said in a brief statement.

Both companies have previously acknowledged paying close attention to a wave of consolidation sweeping across their industry.

This year, Viasat and Eutelsat hope to gain regulatory approvals to acquire Inmarsat and OneWeb, respectively, to bolster their businesses amid rising competition from SpaceX’s Starlink broadband constellation.

Since Viasat announced its deal for Inmarsat in November 2021, both SES and Intelsat have routinely faced questions about whether they could also merge to strengthen competition, but neither have directly addressed any talks until now.

The Financial Times reported in August that SES and Intelsat were engaged in active merger talks.

According to a Bloomberg report published shortly before SES’ March 29 announcement, a deal between the two operators could be finalized in a matter of few weeks, combining the more than 70 satellites SES has across geostationary and medium Earth orbit with Intelsat’s more than 50 geostationary satellites.

However, a merger would need to clear multiple regulatory obstacles and navigate the interests of Luxembourg’s government, which controls about a third of the voting rights in SES.

Publicly listed SES declined to comment beyond its confirmation that it has “engaged in discussions regarding a possible combination with Intelsat.”

Asked to comment on the announcement, Clay McConnell, Intelsat senior vice president of corporate communications and marketing, said: “We do not comment on rumors and speculation.”

A merged group would generate more than $4 billion in combined revenues. 

Intelsat and SES are also set to receive nearly $9 billion in combined proceeds for clearing C-band spectrum for terrestrial cellular operators, although they have been locked in a long-running legal battle over how this windfall should be split.

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...