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China wants to buy more satellite operators

In August a Luxembourg-based offshoot of Beijing-based Xinwei Group announced it had bought Spacecom of Israel (Space Communication Ltd), operators of the AMOS fleet of satellites for $285 million, an impressive – some might say courageous – premium of 41 per cent on the stock market valuation.

The deal has been somewhat stymied by the Sept 1st destruction of the Amos-6 satellite, and the loss of its valuable Facebook contract. Reportedly the Chinese/Spacecom deal is not dead but certainly news from Tel Aviv has gone quiet.  The comments from Spacecom prior to the loss of Amos-6 was that the Chinese wanted to use Spacecom to springboard its activities in space and to absorb other satellite operators under the Spacecom umbrella.

However, this thrust by Chinese companies to expand their presence in the world of satellite communications my not have ended. China already has interests in APT Satellite of Hong Kong, and holds a 6.67 per cent stake in Eutelsat (via China Investment Corp.) and where it is the second-largest institutional shareholder.

In London, Avanti Communications is up for sale and market gossip suggests China could be interested in the film’s assets.

Huang Baozhong, EVP/APT, speaking last week at a satellite event in Kuala Lumpur, told trade mag Space News that  there is a move in China to buy satellite businesses. He described the Spacecom move as one case in point. “But there are others trying to acquire more satellite businesses around the world,” he added.

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