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Proton fallout reverberates through satellite industry

The fallout from the May 16th Proton rocket explosion and the total loss of a Mexican satellite continues to reverberate throughout the industry. SES on May 19th told a banker’s conference in New York that it was very much focusing on using rival launch specialists to Proton (and specifically mentioned Arianespace and SpaceX).  SES told conference delegates that the Proton launch failure would have no impact on SES.

Intelsat, which does have a satellite scheduled for a future launch (Intelsat-31, in H1/2016) has continued to suffer a loss of investor confidence. On April 30th Intelsat’s share price was $12.59. That had slipped during May 19th to $10.30 (and a one-day fall of 7.2 per cent) before rising by close of business to $10.44.

The Proton failure is also impacting DirecTV which has pre-leased capacity on board Intelsat-31 (which DirecTV calls DLA-2) for use on broadcasting DBS signals to its Panamerican division.

London-based Inmarsat has also suffered a declining share price over the past few days from £10.19 a week ago, and tumbling to just £9.50 on Monday when the market heard about the launch failure. Inmarsat’s share price closed on May 19th at £9.76. Inmarsat issued a “small negative” profits warning for this year on May 18 because of the uncertainty as to when its third Global Xpress satellite would now be launched.

Paris-based Eutelsat has seemingly sailed through the crisis despite being affected by two satellites (9B and 31C) being booked on future Proton launches. Eutelsat’s share price, like the other operators, fell back on news of the Proton problem (by about €0.50 at one point) but quickly recovered during this week to close on May 19th at €31.07 (and only a few cents off its May 13th position of €31.15).

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