SES Global to buy NSS for $760 mn

MUMBAI: This piece of news signals further consolidation happening in the satellite industry. The world's biggest satellite operator SES Global will buy New Skies Satellites (NSS) for $760 million in cash.

The integration of New Skies satellite assets will notably extend SES presence in India, the Middle East and Africa as well as in Latin America, allowing SES better to meet its customer requirements for global service offerings. In addition, NSS customers will benefit from the expansion capacity, redundancy and broad service offerings provided by the larger SES fleet and organisation.

Under the terms of the deal, SES will pay $22.52 per share, or $760 million, for New Skies. SES Global will also refinance the company's estimated $400 million in debt, bringing the deal's enterprise value to about $1.2 billion. SES plans to use New Skies' fleet of five satellites, with a sixth scheduled for launch next year, to complement SES's existing fleet, focussing on service in India, the Middle East, Africa and Latin America. 

The companies expect the deal to close in approximately six months. This is the second major acquisition that the satellite industry has seen in recent times. A few months ago, Intelsat had announced a deal to acquire Panamsat. This deal is also expected to close next year which will make it the largest player in the market.

NSS claims to be the worlds fifth largest satellite operator based on transponder capacity, with five spacecraft positioned at strategic orbital locations around the globe and an additional satellite due for launch in 2006. For the fiscal ended 30 September 30, 2005, NSS generated revenues of $ 232.9 million. With its complementary satellite fleet, NSS says that it offers a compelling strategic fit to SES Global, whose Astra and Americom spacecraft are optimised to provide satellite services over Europe and North America.

NSS existing business mix also enhances SES video-centric core business by strengthening its video, data and government segments. In the government services market, NSS position as a satellite capacity provider to a range of government customers is a strong complement to the comprehensive capabilities of SES Americom Government Services in this important and fast-growing market. The transaction will allow SES to reduce its reliance on third-party capacity for government services in certain regions of the world and, moreover, allow for synergies with respect to operating expenses across the business more broadly.

SES Global president and CEO Romain Bausch, says, New Skies is poised to become SES third satellite infrastructure pillar, alongside Astra in Europe and Americom in North America and complementing SES existing participations in Asia and Latin America. New Skies fleet considerably strengthens our ability to provide satellite infrastructure and services in geographic regions and business segments with high growth rates. Furthermore, this acquisition provides SES with an existing cable neighborhood in Latin America and will facilitate the further development of SES government services."

" With its state-of-the-art satellite fleet, blue chip customer base, strong growth profile, and experienced management team and highly skilled employees, we are pleased to welcome New Skies to SES. This acquisition is accretive to earnings and increases our leverage to targeted levels, while adding EBITDA. It therefore immediately increases shareholder value.

NSS CEO Dan Goldberg said, We are delighted to be entering into this agreement with SES, an agreement that serves the best interests of our shareholders, customers, employees and suppliers. As the leader in the commercial satellite sector, SES has a global satellite fleet and other financial and strategic resources that can be leveraged for the benefit of New Skies diverse and growing customer base.

"This agreement also provides significant value for our shareholders, representing a 10 per cent premium to the closing price on August 18, 2005 (which is the last closing price prior to market speculation about the sale of the Company), a 10 per cent premium to the volume weighted average share price since the Companys IPO, and a 36 per cent premium to the IPO listing price just seven months ago. The board of directors of New Skies has unanimously approved the transaction and recommends that the companys shareholders approve it.

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