Intelsat CEO admits “difficult year”

Intelsat CEO Steve Spengler sat down with journalists from Luxemburger Wort newspaper ahead of Intelsat’s board meeting in the country on September 9th In the interview, he admitted that the satellite operator was having a “challenging” year, not helped by the aborted last-minute launch by an Arianespace rocket of its Intelsat 37e satellite on September 5th or the failure of Intelsat’s bond-holders to back a planned merger.

He said Intelsat’s year was nevertheless seeing stability with good progress being made in some key divisions. “We continue to face challenges in our broadband business, which is a very important one. It’s going through some transition in terms of older technology and services to newer ones. We face all of this in 2017, but, overall, we feel good about the stabilisation of aspects of our business that we haven’t seen in recent years.”

Spengler said that his focus has been on investing for future business, including the OneWeb ‘super-constellation’ as well as advanced dish specialists Kymeta.

He told the newspaper that work is continuing with OneWeb, despite the failure of a planned merger (with Japan’s SoftBank) and OneWeb. “We think [the relationship with OneWeb] is extremely valuable because we are going to be able to leverage the strengths of both the Intelsat Epic fleet and the LEO fleet of OneWeb, giving customers global-type services with a diverse type of capabilities with the two fleets.”

As to the SoftBank/OneWeb merger, he confirmed that the deal would have reduced some $3 billion of debt from Intelsat’s obligations, but he remained optimistic about new opportunities. “There are great opportunities for partnerships. Looking at our engagement with OneWeb, a start-up company trying to create new ideas and approaches to communications, we felt this could fit very well with our strategy and what we have. We will embrace these new ideas where it makes sense for our customers and the types of services we are trying to bring forward.”

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