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ArabSat to invest $700 mln in HellasSat expansion

07 October, 2013

Satellite operator Hellas Sat www.hellas-sat.net , a member of the Arab Satellite Communications Organisation (Arabsat) since April, has announced an ambitious $700 mln investment programme with economic and other benefits for Cyprus.
Arabsat, that has so far launched 15 satellites and presently administers 6 satellites with the widest coverage in the Middle East and Africa, plans to launch three new 6th generation satellites, according to its CEO and HellasSat chairman Khalid Balkheyour.
He said, during a banquet in Limassol for its international board of directors, also attended by Communications and Works Minister Tasos Mitsopoulos, that the multi-million investment will aim to expand HellasSat’s orbit position at 39 degrees East.
Balkheyour also thanked the Cyprus government for the support it provides to the Kofinou-based operations.
CEO Christodoulos Protopapas said that the board meeting was very significant for Cyprus as it hosted members and investors from nine Arab League member states (Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Libya, Qatar, UAE, Oman, Sudan, Jordan and Mauritania) and also introduced new members to its board: the Saudi Minister of Broadcasting, Dr. Riyadh Najm; the chairman and CEO of the Qatar mobile operator Ooredoo, Sheikh Saud bin Nasser Al-Thany; and, Said Al-Bahhar, representing the Emirates’ ETISALAT company.
Last year, Hellas Sat renewed its orbital slot for an additional 20 years to 2041 following an agreement with the government of Cyprus, paving the way for the company’s long-expected sale.
The consortium signed the agreement in Nicosia on July 2, 2012, securing a place for an eventual successor to the Hellas Sat 2 satellite that will be decommissioned in 2018.
OTE, the biggest telecoms operator in southeastern Europe, which owned 99.05% in the satellite operator, had long said it would be open to sell Hellas Sat to focus on its core business and raise some 150 mln euros to pay down its debt.
Among the potential buyers at the time was satellite fleet operator SES of Luxembourg, which had indicated that adding Hellas Sat and its orbital slot to its stable of holdings would make sense.