Startup Ka-band satellite broadband provider NewSat Ltd. of Australia has a pivotal year ahead as it seeks to raise financing for its planned Jabiru-1 satellite.
The company, which operates two teleports in Australia, late last year concluded deals with Lockheed Martin Space Systems of the United States and Europe’s Arianespace consortium for construction and launch, respectively, of the satellite. Both arrangements are dependent on export-credit agency financing, from the U.S. Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im) in the case of the satellite and from France’s Coface agency for the launch.
NewSat says export-credit agency financing is expected to cover 75 to 80 percent of the total project cost, with the rest to be covered by equity.
Lockheed Martin is helping to secure the Ex-Im backing — Arianespace is working the Coface angle — and NewSat has said the satellite construction arrangement is contingent on its receipt of full project financing by June 30. Jabiru-1 is tentatively slated to launch in late 2014.
NewSat has a number of things in its favor. Its teleport operations provide a steady source of revenue, and the company says it has already booked substantial capacity aboard Jibaru-1, intended to serve the Middle East, Africa, South Asia and Australia.
Most recently, NewSat entered into an arrangement with Malaysian satellite operator Measat under which it will lease some $180 million worth of transponder capacity aboard the Measat-3b, scheduled to launch in late 2013 and serve parts of Asia and Australia. Measat, in turn, will lease a similar amount of capacity aboard Jabiru-1. NewSat says the MeaSat-3b capacity, to be named Jibaru-2, will generate $110 million in annual revenue over the satellite’s 15-year life.
But NewSat also faces potential competition in the form of NBN Corp., the Australian government-backed firm that recently ordered two large Ka-band satellites to carry out its founding mandate to bring broadband connectivity to Australia’s entire population. The launches of those satellites are expected to occur in 2015.
NewSat says it is targeting big companies and government customers, while NBN is largely focused on consumers and small businesses. Nevertheless, Ex-Im and Coface officials likely will take a close look at NBN’s market impact in assessing the viability of NewSat and the Jabiru-1 project.