Market opportunist or capex junkie? The market will have to decide the issue with respect to SES of Luxembourg, which is increasing its fleet capacity by 19 percent between 2011 and 2015 and is eyeing other opportunities for growth as well.
Shareholders may wonder when the spending holiday will begin, but SES believes the company is uniquely placed among the large fleet operators to capture demand in the emerging markets. Thus the decision to add 249 new C- and Ku-band transponders by 2015 — not counting satellites that have not yet been ordered.
Then there is O3b. SES has laid out plans to increase its ownership in O3b to a majority stake before taking it public. A recent investor presentation by SES management drove home to any doubters that the company remains a firm believer in O3b’s potential.
O3b is planning a constellation of at least eight satellites — and possibly more than 100, according to SES — in an unusual equatorial orbit to deliver large quantities of Ka-band bandwidth to telecommunications operators, corporate customers and governments in the region between 45 degrees north and south of the equator.
The first two batches of four O3b satellites are scheduled for launch by June 2013, with an additional four satellites to be deployed in 2014.
For its core business of providing television broadcasts, SES is counting on the global penetration of HDTV and, starting around 2015, ultra-HD, to keep demand for satellite bandwidth growing. The company points to satellite television subscriber numbers in Europe compared with digital terrestrial and cable as proof that satellite delivery remains highly competitive even in the most developed markets.
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