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Intelsat plans to ink deal with private investors

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MUMBAI: After Intelsat canned its plans to launch a public offering, it has been in talks with several financial buyers about a deal which could be worth up to $5 billion.

According to media reports, investment bank Morgan Stanley and Merrill Lynch are conducting an auction for the Bermuda-based satellite services group. The auction is reportedly gathering momentum after Blackstone, the US buy-out group, paid $956 million for New Skies Satellites last weekend. New Skies was spun out of Intelsat in 1998.

The bidders for Intelsat include a joint approach from Madison Dearborn and Apollo, and Bain Capital and Thomas H Lee. Blackstone and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, two large US houses who have both done "platform" deals in the sector, are also reported to be interested.

The reports indicate that the auction of Intelsat, of which 24 per cent is owned by the US defence group, Lockheed Martin, could be completed within months.

It is also mentioned that Intelsat has hired advisors to hasten up the sale because the high-yield markets are becoming more expensive, making it difficult for buyout houses to fund deals.

Intelsat became a private company in 2001 after 37 years as an inter-governmental organisation. Apart from Lockheed Martin, a number of telecom groups have stakes in the business.

Intelsat has more than 600 telecom service providers and broadcasters as customers. It provides "connectivity solutions" for businesses and governments for international communication.

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