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ABS sale to China “highly unlikely”

Satellite operator Asia Broadcast Satellite (ABS) which has been up for sale since – at least – July of 2016, remains on the sales forecourt although there are reports that final bidders are lining up.

However, a rumoured potential sale by its owners, private equity company Permira, to Shenzen-based China Communication Technology (CCT), and initially reported by Bloomberg, has been ruled out by ABS CEO Tom Choi as “highly unlikely”.

The Bloomberg report says that CCT is in “advanced stages” of talks with Permira although also stressed that there was no certainty that the discussions would be successful.

Choi had told delegates at Casbaa in Singapore last Autumn that Permira had started a process to source a buyer and in order to close a particular fund that Permira had used to acquire ABS. ABS bought ABS in 2010 for around $242 million.

Then the fleet was a modest collection of mostly older satellites. Now the operation, which is formally headquartered in Bermuda but has its main operation in the Philippines, has some 390 transponders on a total of 7 satellites including ABS 2A which launched last June.

“We are owned by a financial sponsor. They have been a very good partner for our company,” Choi told delegates. “They came in after we had acquired in-orbit satellite capacity from other satellite operators. We had grand ambitions for new satellites. They put in a big chunk of new equity, which gave us the financing to build the ABS-2, ABS-2A and ABS-3A satellites.”

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