If ever there was a ‘bargain basement’ acquisition that could resonate well beyond the $75 million purchase price it is Eutelsat’s buying of Noorsat in a deal which closed on October 13th.
Noorsat is a capacity re-seller, with some 30 transponders under overall contract at the Nilesat/Eutelsat ‘hot spot’ at 7/8 degrees West, but also with capacity co-located with Arabsat at its ‘hot spot’ at 25/25.5 degrees East. This capacity is utilised by Eutelsat on the Es’hail 1 satellite.
Indeed, with significant access to these two positions alone Eutelsat is now even more directly involved in the ever-expanding Middle East television landscape, which shows absolutely no signs of contraction.
Noorsat itself is a prize catch. Ultimately owned by the powerful Saudi Arabia-based Mawarid Holdings conglomerate, Noorsat has, since its formation in 2004, built up a very useful portfolio of clients under CEO Omar Shoter (who used to run Arabsat).
Based mostly in Amman, Shoter and his team of some 40 staff will stay on under the new Eutelsat ownership, and – according to Eutelsat – integration of the “more than 300 channels” will now start.
The deal means that Eutelsat greatly consolidates its hold at the 7/8 degrees West position, and has a large foot in the door at Arabsat’s important 25 degrees West orbital slot.
Eutelsat, no doubt, has its eye on the trend towards HDTV (as many of Noorsat’s clients are still transmitting in Standard Definition). Each channel that expands into HD means extra capacity and revenues for Eutelsat. Any thoughts of these – often modest – channels moving into Ultra HD is quite some time off.