Singtel profits dip • Argentine, Turkish companies form small GEO builder • KVH sells Videotel business for $90 million
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Singtel reported its lowest profit in 16 years, citing increasing competitive pressure in India and Indonesia. The company’s net profit was 773 million Singaporean dollars ($565 million) for the quarter ended March 31, roughly flat compared to the same three months last year. Singtel, Southeast Asia’s largest telecom operator, owns the Australia-focused Optus Satellite and has two teleports in Singapore. Singtel Group CEO Chua Sock Koong said the company will accelerate its digitalization efforts to improve productivity, customer experience, and lower its cost structure. [CNBC]
Argentine satellite manufacturer INVAP and Turkish Aerospace have formed a joint company called GSATCOM Space Technologies. The venture will create a new line of small, all-electric geostationary communication satellites, with the goal of increasing the companies’ presence in the international market. INVAP built Argentina’s ARSAT-1 and ARSAT-2 telecom satellites with assistance from European manufacturers. Turkish Aerospace is involved in the development of Turkey’s first domestically produced satellite, Turksat-6A, in handling assembly, integration and test activities. [INVAP]
KVH is selling its maritime personnel training business Videotel for $90 million. The divestiture allows KVH to focus on its maritime satellite connectivity and inertial navigation business, CEO Martin Kits van Heyningen said. KVH said May 13 that the sale was completed immediately to Oakley Capital, with payment expected within 30 business days. KVH plans to use the proceeds to pay down debt. [KVH]
Sky and Space Global says negotiations for U.S. debt financing of its nanosatellite constellation is at an “advanced stage,” though the company didn’t state the amount of money it is seeking to borrow. SAS Global said last month it needed to raise 7.2 million Australian dollars ($5.2 million) to prevent further delays with its constellation, whose first launch had slipped from this year to 2020. In a letter to shareholders dated May 15, SAS Global CEO Meir Moalem said the company has reduced its operating expenditures so that it will save $2 million Australian dollars in annualized operating expenditures. That cost saving effort includes a 50 percent pay cut for the company’s founders and directors. [SAS Global]
The FCC’s approval of an Earth observation constellation has triggered new debate about its role in mitigating space debris. The FCC announced last week that it approved a license for a constellation of 112 synthetic aperture radar satellites proposed by Theia, a stealthy startup, contingent on the company providing a more detailed orbital debris mitigation plan. The approval comes as the FCC is weighing changes to its existing regulations on orbital debris, and questioning if the agency has the appropriate expertise to handle the topic. One commissioner, Jessica Rosenworcel, issued a statement wondering why, if the FCC was weighing its role in orbital debris mitigation, it nonetheless was moving to “rubber stamp” constellations that could place thousands of satellites into orbit. [Breaking Defense]
Eutelsat’s efforts to develop a satellite broadband business in Africa are off to a slow start. The company’s Konnect Africa started service in late 2018 using leased capacity on Emirati operator Yahsat’s Al Yah 3 satellite, and was live in 19 countries as of February. The company, though, has run into a number of regulatory and logistical issues, including the government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo shutting off internet access during elections in December. The company expects “no material revenues” from Konnect Africa this year as a consequence of those challenges, but remains optimistic about future demand for the service. [SpaceNews]
The European Space Agency’s Clean Space initiative wants artificial intelligence and machine learning experts to help capture space debris. The agency’s Advanced Concepts Team and Stanford University are collaborating on ways artificial intelligence can estimate the distance and orientation of objects in space. ESA said tumbling space debris is difficult to capture, but artificial intelligence could ease that process for a debris-removal satellite. ESA and Stanford University are launching a competition to cultivate ideas, though the only prize is “the pride of discovering a helpful tool for the society.” ESA said 60 teams have registered for the competition, which runs until July 1. [ESA]
Cubic has appointed a former Northrop Grumman executive for its recently acquired satellite radiofrequency systems company Nuvotronics. Martin J. Amen will serve as vice president of strategy and business development, reporting to President of Cubic Mission Solutions Mike Twyman. Amen was the senior director of secure network operations for Northrop Grumman, and has previous experience with commercial and military satellite systems. Cubic purchased Nuvotronics for $64 million in March, and said it will pay an additional $8 million if Nuvotronics meets undisclosed profit targets in 2020 and 2021. [Cubic]
Shareholders have approved a private-equity takeover of Inmarsat. More than three quarters of shareholders voted on Friday in favor of the proposed acquisition by private equity firms Apax and Warburg Pincus and Canadian pension firms CPPIB and OTPP, which valued the company at $3.3 billion. The deal comes after Inmarsat twice rejected offers from U.S. satellite operator EchoStar, saying the offers of up to $4.25 billion undervalued the company. Analysts said that this deal won favor because of a higher per-share price and the all-cash nature of the offer. Inmarsat expects the deal to close in the fourth quarter. [SpaceNews]
SpaceNews Senior Staff Writer Jeff Foust contributed to this newsletter.