Asiasat's revenue jumps 27% as core biz stays strong

MUMBAI: Asian satellite operator Asiasat has posted a 27 per cent jump in turnover to HK$689,776,000 forthe first six months of this calendar year.

Profit attributable to equity holders rose by 21 per cent to HK$305,216,000.
Asiasat executive chairman Peter Jackson said, "The first half of 2010 was encouraging and our core businesses continue to perform well. The recent global economic downturn had relatively low impact on our industry and on AsiaSat in particular. That said, while not being complacent, we have full confidence in the services we provide as well as in our core financial strength, debt-free balance sheet and market-leading position. These assets will serve us well in the future."

Asiasat made steady progress through the first half of the year in line with the outlook it hadgiven in March. The excellent performance was achieved despite the limited global economic recovery.

The company is cautiously optimistic about the medium-term future. Construction of Asiasat 7 by Space Systems/Loral in the US is progressing on schedule towards its planned launch in late 2011. It is based on the SS/L 1300 series satellite platform with its design and performance similar to that of its most recent satellite, AsiaSat 5. 
The first half of 2010 was marked by several corporate developments. The board announced that Jackson would retire as CEO and be appointed as executive chairman of the Company. Deputy CEO, William Wade, has taken over as CEO effective 1 August.
The exciting new Direct-to-Home (DTH) project in Taiwan was launched in June and is making good progress. As the year advances, Asiasat continues to see growing interest in High Definition Television (HDTV) in the region. AsiaSat played its part in facilitating the 2010 Fifa World Cup.

The main increase in turnover was due to encouraging growth in the core business, revenue generated through a lease agreement for exclusive use of Asiasat 2, and the leasing of transponders to Dish-HD Asia Satellite the Taiwan JV. The wholly-owned subsidiary, SpeedCast, also reported an increase with first-half revenue up HK$24 million as a result of continued strong customer demand.

Operating expenses in the first half of 2010, excluding depreciation and amortisation, amounted to HK$166 million (2009 : HK$158 million), up by HK$8 million. This increase was related substantially to in-orbit insurance incurred for the new satellite, launched in the second half of last year.

The profit increase was achieved mainly from steady growth in revenue. Despite the impact of the increased operating costs and additional depreciation charges associated with the new satellite, the profit improvement was most encouraging.

In the first six months of 2010, a number of new contracts were secured with a total value of HK$494 million (2009 : HK$164 million) and renewed contracts were valued at HK$266 million (2009 : HK$250 million). Together, these amounted to HK$760 million (2009 : HK$414 million). The bulk of this total came from new business generated during the period.

A contract of particular note was a multiple transponder agreement that Asiasat signed on 30 December 2009 with Vietnam Multimedia Corporation (VTC), Vietnam.s leading national broadcaster and operator of digital broadcasting. VTC is using Asiasat‘s high-powered Ku-band transponders to set up a new premium DTH platform supporting up to 30 High Definition (HD) and 70 Standard Definition (SD) television channels, country wide.

Other contracts included the distribution of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver to Asia and Australasia via Asiasat 5; new Urdu and Sindhi language channels for Kawish TV Network (KTN) of Pakistan; and the renewal by China‘s official press agency, Xinhua News Agency, of its long-term Ku-band agreement.

World Cup fever and HD came together from 11 June to 11 July 2010 when Eurovision, the distributor of sports and news content for the world‘s top broadcasters and media platforms, leased additional C-band transponders on Asiasat 5. This added capacity was needed to support the HD and SD broadcasts of all 64 Fifa World Cup tournament matches. The Eurovision signals from South Africa were transported via its dedicated fibre network to Asiasat‘s Tai Po Earth Station in Hong Kong for uplink to Asiasat 5, which provided broadcast coverage for the whole Asia-Pacific region.

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