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Worldspace: yet another year passes

June 20, 2011

Last Friday June 17th another tedious Motion was submitted to the Delaware bankruptcy court in the long-running, never-ending saga that is “Worldspace Inc. Et al (Debtors)” and its chapter 11 proceedings. Worldspace was a would-be pay-radio operator which spent – and arguably wasted – billions in its attempt to match internationally what Sirius-XM had achieved in North America.

It is exactly a year (June 24 2010) since Worldspace’s founder Noah Samara paid, via his new acquisition vehicle Yazmi USA, some $6 million for the assets of bankrupt Worldspace including two orbiting satellites. Since then zip, nada, nothing.

The bankruptcy proceedings themselves extend back much further than one year, having been commenced on October 17 2008. Last week the debtor’s lawyers filed a petition to extend the proceedings on to December 31st.

Currently, the only people making money out of international pay-radio are the lawyers. On June 8 one firm submitted its 30th successive invoice for payment ($11,000, and where monthly claims range from $5,000 to $38,000).

There are still shareholders of Worldspace, many of whom have bought penny shares in the bankrupt operation, holding onto the hope that there’s some sort of plan for the shell company and its massive losses. The general sentiment is that Liberty Global, via a wholly-owned subsidiary Liberty Satellite Radio, might be interested – and there’s plenty of past proof that John Malone could well be interested in the accumulated losses at Worldspace. “There is no doubt in my mind that Malone has something in store for the soon to be clean shell. It just doesn’t make any sense that he would dump that kind of money into this and simply walk away! He is smarter than that,” said one hopeful shareholder last week.

Sadly, there are still claims coming in. One from a Dubai-based staffer employed during and after the Chapter 11 process who is seeking his unpaid salary. Another filed 10 days ago came from a group of residents from Goa, including an importer of Worldspace’s radio receivers, seeking compensation for their losses including pre-paid subscriptions.

Yazmi’s two satellites, AfriStar and AsiaStar, are fading fast. AfriStar, originally built by Matra Marconi Space was launched in October 1998 and with a design life of 12 years. In other words, this craft is already into overtime! The second, AsiaStar was launched in March 2000, again with a design life of 12 years, so it has some usable operational months ahead.

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