Kleo Connect out of cash
February 5, 2024
By Chris Forrester
China-backed – but Germany-based – would-be satellite constellation Kleo Connect has reportedly run out of cash, and laid off staff effective April 30th. The Chinese company behind Kleo, Shanghai Spacecom Satellite Technology (SSST) are also the sponsors of China’s G60 mage-constellation.
However, SSST on February 1st raised 6.7 billion Yuan (about €877 million) in fresh cash for the construction of the G60 fleet, according to Reuters. The G60 plan calls for a constellation of 12,000 satellites. 108 are planned to launch this year. The scheme plans a full commercial service to be introduced during 2025. The SSST project is additional to China Satellite Network Group’s 13,000 fleet (Guowang SatNet). Also in the planning stage is technology company Huawei’s plans for its own super-constellation which is reportedly to be in action by 2030.
As for Kleo it was in a bitter dispute with Rivada Space Networks, itself based in Munich, over satellite frequencies which Rivada is planning to use for its planned 600-satellite low Earth orbit constellation.
The German government in September 2023 decisively prohibited the attempt of a hostile takeover of the German satellite company Kleo Connect GmbH by SSST. SSST and CED (a Chinese-owned Liechtenstein entity) together own around 53 per cent of Kleo; Rivada and its partner ‘eightyLEO’ own 47 per cent.
Rivada’s statement in September said: “Rivada welcomes this decision of the German federal government, which makes clear that the Chinese investors in Kleo have no right to assume full control of the company. The Federal Government of Germany has formally closed off the avenue of Beijing’s long running lawfare campaign against Rivada and put an end to SSST’s unlawful attempts to force out Rivada and Kleo’s German founders and attack the transfer of spectrum filings to Rivada.”