Satellite loss may affect Intelsat acquisition

MUMBAI: It is the second time in less than four months that Intelsat's global fleet of communications spacecraft has suffered a satellite malfunction. The second accident could not have come at a worse time for the satellite services provider.

The company has announced that its IS-804 satellite experienced an electrical power system anomaly on Friday that caused the total loss of the spacecraft.

The satellite, launched in 1997, provided telecom and media services to customers in the South Pacific. Intelsat is in the process of being acquired by Zeus Holdings- a group of four private equity firms, in a cash-and-debt deal valued at about $5 billion. Intelsat issued a release saying that the loss of the satellite gives Zeus Holdings the right to not consummate the acquisition. Zeus has advised Intelsat it is evaluating the impact of the satellite failure.

The accident will result in a non-cash charge of approximately $73 million as the satellite was not covered by insurance. The news come only three months after Intelsat experienced a similar problem with the Intelsat Americas 7.

Intelsat has maintained that there is no connection between this event and the IA-7 satellite incident as the two satellites were manufactured by two different companies and their designs were different. Intelsat CEO Conny Kullman put up a brave front saying, "The loss of a satellite is an extremely rare event for us. Our first priority must be restoration of service to our customers. Intelsat remains firmly committed to the region that was covered by IS-804, and all necessary effort and assets will be allocated to ensure Intelsat satellite coverage throughout the Asia-Pacific region."

In accordance with existing satellite anomaly contingency plans, Intelsat is in the process of making alternative capacity available to its IS-804 customers.

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