April 5th saw SES hold its AGM in Luxembourg and issue its Annual Report for 2017. Outgoing CEO Karim Michel Sabbagh admitted in his farewell letter to shareholders that not all of his objectives last year had been met. “Let me be very clear that our execution in 2017 didn’t meet all our objectives. The implications of building out the new business model in SES Networks were not fully anticipated, and satellite health caused some adjustments that had short-term impacts.”
Sabbagh, however, stressed that SES had advanced new business models to cope with business pressures, not least being “the only satellite operator with a proven track record of operating constellations in GEO and MEO” and was now playing the “long game”.
“While the company is still in the early stages of developing [these new markets], SES is already serving the major cruise ship operators as well as the inflight connectivity service providers. In fact, we estimate that our communication solutions are enabling the connectivity experience of more than 50 per cent of satellite-connected planes in flight.”
“We are already starting to see positive indications of future success from this transformation. To illustrate, SES Networks achieved a record level of new business during the fourth quarter of 2017. In fact, SES is entering 2018 with the highest level of pre-committed in-year revenues in recent times.”
SES’s share price, perhaps helped by these expectations, rose almost 3 per cent (€0.30) during the day’s trading to €11.42.
Sabbagh has now handed over to Steve Collar, who previously headed up SES’s fast-growing Networks division.