SES Executive Leaving To Take Reins at O3b Networks

by

Updated Feb. 22

 

PARIS

SES
Chief Financial Officer Mark Rigolle is resigning to become chief executive of O3b Networks Ltd., a startup company that is minority-owned by
SES
and is building a constellation of satellites to provide Internet links to telecommunications operators in the developing world, industry officials said.

Rigolle, who is expected to assume his new duties immediately, will replace Greg Clarke, who was appointed chief executive of O3b only last November and is stepping down for personal reasons. Clarke will remain on the company’s board of directors, officials said.

SES
announced Feb. 22 that Andrew Browne, who was chief financial officer at New Skies Satellites before its purchase by
SES
, will replace Rigolle.

Based in
Britain
’s
Channel Islands
, O3b is currently soliciting about $235 million in equity to complete a financial package totaling $900 million to build and launch 20 low-orbiting satellites to deliver Ka-band data links to telecommunications operators and Internet service providers around the equator.

ThalesAlenia Space of
France
and
Italy
has begun construction of a first batch of eight satellites, to be launched four at a time on the European version of
Russia
’s Soyuz rocket operated by the Arianespace consortium of
France
. The French export-credit agency, Coface, in September agreed to provide $465 million in loan guarantees to O3b as part of a total debt package of $525 million that is expected to be put into place in the coming weeks.

Satellite fleet operator
SES
of Luxembourg, after a months-long analysis of O3b’s business plan, in November agreed to invest $75 million in cash in O3b and to provide engineering, sales, network control and satellite operations services.
SES
Chief Executive Romain Bausch told investors in a Feb. 12 conference call that
SES
’s current commitments to O3b, both cash and in-kind, would ensure
SES
a 30 percent ownership stake after the current financing round is completed.

O3b intends to launch 20 satellites into an unusual 8,000-kilometer orbit centered on the equator to provide coverage in regions that are not served by terrestrial broadband data links.