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SES says it is now carrying 23 Ultra HD channels across its fleet (up from 19 at December 31st). Fifteen of these channels are commercial.
SES says it will increase its shareholding in specialist satellite operator O3b (which targets the ‘other 3 billion’ of underserved broadband consumers) to 50.5 per cent, and thus take a controlling share in the business. SES will pay $20 million to increase its stake from today’s 49.1 per cent to 50.5 per cent. It takes its overall investment in O3b to $323 million (€257m). The transaction is subject to regulatory approvals which are expected to conclude later this year.
Karim Michel Sabbagh, SES President/CEO, commented: “The move to take control of O3b is a game-changing acquisition and a major step in the execution of SES’s differentiated strategy and complements SES’s growth strategy. O3b delivers a unique capability and solution, which is already in operation, for Enterprise, Mobility and Government clients, particularly for applications where low latency is an increasingly essential feature. The combined GEO/MEO satellite network and capabilities give SES a truly compelling and differentiated service offering within the industry, strengthening SES’s unique positioning across the data-centric markets.”
The news came alongside SES’s Q1 results, which showed revenues up 0.8 per cent to €481.6 million (although at constant currency this converts to a -1.9 per cent fall compared to the same period last year).
More positively, SES reported that its HD penetration had risen from 30 per cent to 32.5 per cent of its channels. Its contracted backlog grew from €7.4 billion (this time last year) to €7.6 billion at March 31st.
Video contracts now represent 71 per cent of SES revenue (up from 68 per cent last year) and revenues were up 5 per cent to €339.7 million for Q1, and helped by “strong growth in new HDTV and UHD channels across the fleet”.
SES is now carrying 7,309 channels, of which 2,375 are in HD.