Hispasat facing ownership drama

Hispasat has revealed its 2017 revenue and profit numbers, which are relatively positive given the global slump in satellite demand. Madrid-based Hispasat reported total revenues of €235.1 million (up 2.7 per cent) over 2016, and net profit was significantly ahead (up three-fold) at €80.5 million. Its contracted backlog was just over €1 billion (4.4 times revenues) despite revenues from capacity leasing falling by almost 4 per cent.

So far so good. But Hispasat’s president Elena Pisonero said that 2017 was “very complex” and that 2018 was another challenging year given that the satellite industry is in “complete evolution”.

Part of Hispasat’s problem is its ownership structure, which most observers expected to have been finalised by now. Eutelsat of Paris owns 33.7 per cent of Hispasat and has agreed to a sale of its shareholding to Spanish motorway operator Abertis for €302 million ($372m) but has been unable to close the deal because Abertis itself is in a takeover battle between potential Italian and a Spanish/German consortium.  Abertis owns 57 per cent of Hispasat.

But also involved is the Spanish state which has the power to approve – and veto – any commercial deal.

The Eutelsat sale of its stake in Hispasat was agreed back in 2016, and Eutelsat’s CEO Rodolphe Belmer told analysts in February that he expects the sale to wrap by this summer.

The Spanish sale is complicated because some of the Hispasat fleet carries communications capacity for Spain’s military.

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