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Eutelsat's first half revenue up 6.4 per cent

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MUMBAI: European satellite operator Eutelsat has reported results for the first half ended 31 December, 2005. Revenue was up 6.4 per cent at 395 million euros

It managed to attain operating free cash flow at 155 million euros. The company also said that it improved its financial flexibility improved.

Key business highlights:

-- Momentum gained in data and value-added services, increased demand from video applications
-- Strategy validated by new contracts
-- Visibility further enhanced: backlog up 29 per cent to 4.0 billion euros, representing 5.3 years of sales
-- Fill rate of satellites stands at 76.6 per cent

Video Applications revenue rose by 1.3 per cent reflecting notably the continuous increase of TV channels broadcast by Eutelsat (+75 channels growth from 30 June to 31 December 2005). With a limited number of analogue channels (14 as of December 31, 2005), the group has almost completed the transition towards digital broadcasting.

Only seven per cent of video capacity is still in analogue. Data services revenue was up 7.9 per cent, notably due to strong growth in value-added services (+25.8 per cent), reflecting business development with corporate and institutional customers and sustained activity in emerging countries. Multi-usage leases increased by 4.2 per cent owing principally to a more favourable dollar/euro exchange rate.

Eutelsat says that its operational performance validates the growth strategy defined by the group to maximise revenue per transponder for Western Europe and emerging markets through consolidation of the group's leadership position in video services by developing video neighbourhoods in addition to the Hot Bird neighbourhood to serve growing markets such as Africa and Russia and Eastern Europe (16 degrees East). The company is also deploying and developing broadband solutions.

Eutelsat CEO Giuliano Berretta said, "These results reflect our ability to deliver a strong financial and operational performance and to achieve an EBITDA margin of more than 78 per cent. With new contracts secured for video broadcasting and value-added services, we continue to see growth across our key business applications, which increases our backlog by nearly 30 per cent to four billion euros. This is equivalent to more than five years of revenue.

"In addition, the success of our Initial Public Offering, together with our sustained cash flow generation, has allowed us to reduce our indebtedness by some 915 million euros, adding flexibility to finance our development plan. Given the robustness of the first half performance, I am confident in our ability not only to increase our revenue growth objective for 2005-2006 to 2.5 per cent, but also to raise to above 4.5 per cent our compound annual revenue growth rate projection for the following three fiscal years, with the acceleration of the
procurement of Hot Bird 9 and the relocation of Hot Bird 3 following the launch of Hot Bird 8.

"Eutelsat has established its unique competitive presence with its high-quality customer base and leading market share positions in Western Europe and emerging markets in Eastern Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Africa. I am sure that Eutelsat Communications is, and will continue to be the Fixed Satellite Services provider of choice, as we continue to invest in our first-class fleet in order to consistently offer the right satellites for the right markets," adds Berretta.

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