Eutelsat could save E-5WB; staff cuts will happen

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More details are due imminently on the precise condition of Eutelsat’s latest satellite, E-5WB, which is suffering from a problem with one of its solar arrays. Eutelsat is saying that it may not be a total loss, far from it. The industry will know more by the end of November when the operator’s technicians and a failure inquiry have evaluated all their options.

The satellite was launched on October 9th.

Eutelsat is also initiating its second cost-cutting exercise and is looking to trim 100 staff, freezing salaries and cease new hirings in a drive to save €20-€25 million by the end of its next financial year (June 2022).

Addressing the health – or otherwise – of Eutelsat’s troubled 5 West B satellite, CFO Sandrine Téran told analysts that the company was looking at the state of health of the craft it was designed to replace, Eutelsat 5 West A which has sufficient fuel on board to maintain full ‘three-axis’ stabilised functionality until the end of the year, and thereafter it could be maintained in steadily inclined orbit for some time thereafter.

Eutelsat also confirmed that its evaluation of the new satellite would take into account the possibility that the anomaly could affect the second solar array.

An obvious option is to declare the craft a total loss, and claim the insured value (build, launch and first year of operation) worth up to €173 million.

One element included in the overall study is what Eutelsat might use to replace E-5WB or to augment an inclined orbiting E-5WA.

The market on October 31st took advantage of the slump in Eutelsat’s share price, which crashed at one point some 12 per cent (down €2.19 to €16.29) and bought in at the lower priced stock. The price recovered during the day finishing 6.20 per cent lower on its October 31st opening at €17.33.


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