Two years ago, French president Emmanuel Macron said he would create a Space Force. On October 12th, he backed up his promise with a €30 billion commitment for investment in France’s high-tech sectors.
“We want to have Elon Musks in France,” he told an audience at the Elysée Palace.
Macron said that Musk and his SpaceX rocket venture showed how innovation globally was moving much faster than expected.
Macron didn’t specifically mention Eutelsat and the bid from Patrick Drahi or the Franco-German Ariane 6 rocket system (itself now many years late in its development). But satellite sector analyst Sami Kassab fleshed out the comments saying that Macron wants to work with both established and new players to deliver on four main goals: reusable small launchers, nano sats, new use cases and ‘tomorrow’s constellations’.
Kassab, from investment bank Exane/BNPP, said: “[Macron’s] analysis echoes our views that we have entered a new space age where competition from mega constellations is likely to have an impact on some of the established players and where space occupies a new geopolitical dimension. The French government appears supportive of its space champions. However, there was nothing in President Macron speech that would have suggested a position with regards to the recent bid on Eutelsat. But with time passing and with no objection raised in public, we believe it is increasingly likely that the Drahi bid has some government support. We continue to expect Drahi to raise its offer on Eutelsat.”
“This speech also has us reaffirm our views that France with the EU are likely to announce investment plans regarding LEO constellations. Taking a minority stake in OneWeb or Telesat Lightspeed is one possible option but this idea has been rejected by rocket launchers, satellite manufacturers and SES. Announcing a public-private partnership to build a European constellation is another option supported by most industry participants. In our view, a way for Europe to rebuild its competitiveness in space would be to build a multi-orbit system to benefit from the low latency contribution of LEO assets and the relatively lower cost of MEO/GEO systems. We believe this would favour both SES (positive) and Eutelsat (equal weight),” added Kassab.