Advanced Television

SES “fairly confident” over C-band progression

May 8, 2020

By Chris Forrester

SES CEO Steve Collar delivered a confident report to analysts at its Q1/2020 results on May 7th, and there was much focus from analysts on whether the FCC’s proposed C-band scheme would go ahead should there be any form of Chapter 11 filing by Intelsat.

D-day, as far as the FCC auction of C-band spectrum, is May 29th and it is by this date that Intelsat must confirm its participation. Collar stated that he was “fairly confident” and as confident as he could be that the FCC plan would be executed and in particular that the 80 per cent agreement threshold would be met and thus the FCC plan triggered.

However, as analyst Sami Kassab noted in his advice to clients, SES “does not seem to have any contingency plans in case where Intelsat would elect not to participate”.

This might be an extreme comment and that Collar’s “confidence” is based on better knowledge than that which is available in the public domain. And a prudent CEO – and Collar and his team are extremely prudent – would always have a Plan B up their sleeves.

However, there was one other positive financial comment on C-band, again provoked by Kassab, which asked whether there were opportunities for one-on-one negotiations with telcos for additional payments, over and above the FCC’s agreed incentive payments. Collar told analysts that there were, and reminded analysts that the FCC allows for extra payments, although it was “way too early” to place any sort of expectation on what those payments might be. Collar stated there were likely to be opportunities, but SES needed to first better understand the spectrum implications of the auction.

Investors, however, seemed not to be impressed. SES shares ended the day 1.12 per cent down at €5.67.

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