Yahsat to Acquire Thuraya, Making Satellite Investment More Likely

by Bill Ostrove, Space Systems Analyst, Forecast International.

Yahsat Ground Station or Teleport. Source – Yahsat

 

Yahsat has entered into an agreement to acquire a majority stake in Thuraya. Both companies are based in the United Arab Emirates. Yahsat primarily provides fixed satellite services (FSS), while Thuraya chiefly provides mobile satellite services (MSS).

The transaction is expected to close after customary conditions have been met and regulatory approvals have been obtained. The tender process will start shortly to offer current shareholders the option to participate in this sale.

Thuraya’s two satellites, which serve over 140 countries, will join the Yahsat fleet of three satellites, expanding the combined group’s satellite fleet to five. The combination of geostationary satellites operating in the C-, Ka-, Ku-, and L-bands will jointly cover Europe, Africa, the Middle East, South America, and Asia, providing a broad range of FSS and MSS that span voice and data communications to both commercial and government sectors.

Thuraya X5-Touch Satellite Smartphone. Source – Thuraya Telecom

For many years, satellite operators were rigidly divided between FSS and MSS providers. In recent years, these distinctions have begun to blur. In an attempt to capture the mobile data market , many traditionally FSS providers have tapped the MSS market. For example, satellite companies such as SES and Telesat now sell capacity to the airline in-flight broadband and shipping markets. In contrast, Inmarsat – traditionally an MSS operator – will market services to fixed oil and offshore drilling platforms.

By combining, Yahsat and Thuraya will be able to serve both satellite markets, giving the new company expanded flexibility and the ability to serve its customers.

The joined company will also have more resources to invest in new satellites. Beginning in 2016, Thuraya began a process of raising $1.1 billion to fund two next-generation high throughput satellites. However, Thuraya has not been able to raise that amount of money. The new company will likely have more resources and access to investors, improving the likelihood that the two satellites will be purchased.

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