Advanced Television

Canada’s Telesat sale close

March 7, 2011

By Chris Forrester

There seem to be two final bidders for the satellite assets of Ottawa-based Telesat. Informed sources suggest that Intelsat, already the world’s largest operator of satellites, is one interested party. The other is reported to be a group of private equity investors. Europe’s SES and Eutelsat have each ruled themselves out of the bidding.

Telesat is Canada’s major satellite operator, and its powerful Anik and Nimiq craft carry more than 200 TV channels including pay-TV channels from Bell TV and Shaw Direct. Additionally, Telesat has a growing business in the supply of ‘broadband by satellite’ to Canada’s rural population.

However, with the sale timetable said to be very close to a decision, Telesat’s CEO Dan Goldberg has still negotiated the purchase of a large chunk of Ka-band capacity on ViaSat-1, due to be launched later this year.

ViaSat-1 is being built by Space Systems/Loral (SS/L), and a SS/L sister company Loral Space & Communications is a majority shareholder in Telesat (Canada’s PSP Investments pension fund is the other).  Telesat has paid Loral US$13m premium payment for the Canadian beams from ViaSat-1, plus US$48.2m to reimburse Loral for Loral’s share of Viasat-1’s construction, launch and insurance payments.
Goldberg said the ViaSat-1 project fits with Telesat’s current business, which includes offering Ka-band bandwidth on Telesat satellites for Canadian consumers.

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