Antrix, Devas litigation rumbles on
December 3, 2021
The very long-running dispute between India’s ISRO Antrix commercial division and a (then) satellite agreement with Devas Multimedia, commenced in 2005, continues to very slowly process through various courts and administrations.
In essence, Devas has been awarded $1.2 billion, plus interest, in compensation by an international tribunal.
The latest chapter saw Antrix saying in a Washington DC court that it has very few US-based assets. Antrix says that only two US companies – Intelsat Service and Equipment LLC (itself in Chapter 11 bankruptcy) and Yazmi USA LLC (see below for note) owes the ISRO commercial arm any dues that would be of interest to Devas investors. The amounts are modest. Intelsat’s debt to Antrix is less than $150,000 while Yamzi owes less than $40,000. Antrix has no other assets in the US its says.
Yamzi USA was the rump of Worldspace’s CEO Noah Samara entrepreneurial efforts. Afristar and Asiastar, once 100 percent of Worldspace’s orbital assets, were bought by Samara out of Worldspace’s own bankruptcy following on from Worldspace’s bankruptcy in 2009. Afristar and Asiastar was sold via a Cayman Islands holding company (Silkwave Africa) to CMMB Vision of Hong Kong (Converged Mobile Multimedia Broadcast), which claimed in 2017 to be the world’s first satellite direct-to-mobile multimedia broadcaster. These assets were acquired in 2017 by Hong Kong-based Silkwave Africa LLC and in April 2021 the FCC modified a licence held by Silkwave for an Afristar-2 satellite to operate from 21 degrees East. Samara is not listed in the company’s management manifest.
Mauritius-based investors in Devas are demanding that Antrix pay up $111 million in approved compensation.
Under the failed 2005 deal, the ISRO subsidiary was contracted to lease two communication satellites for 12 years to Devas Multimedia. Devas was to provide multimedia services to mobile platforms in India using S-band spectrum transponders on ISRO’s GSAT 6 and 6A satellites.
After the cancellation of the Antrix/Devas deal, foreign investors in Devas Multimedia – the German telecom major Deutsche Telekom, the three Mauritius-based investors and Devas Multimedia approached various international tribunals seeking damages for the failed deal all of which have been successful.
But getting their hands on any cash has proven to be extremely challenging. The $1.2 billion compensation award to Devas Multimedia was confirmed by the US federal court for the western district of Washington on October 27th 2020.