Viasat trains the titan of satcoms to face a changing market

TAMPA, Florida. Inmarsat’s $6.2 billion acquisition of Viasat has created a satellite communications behemoth with revenues that would rival other geostationary operators even after their potential consolidation deals.

Inmarsat will help U.S.-based Viasat generate $4.5 billion in revenue for the 12 months to March 31, after its sale closed last week, according to William Blair analyst Louis DiPalma. 60% higher than its forecast of $2.8 billion excluding the British operator.

The companies previously operated in different financial years but reported approximately $4 billion in total revenues for 2022, although Viasat has since also sold a tactical data business that had generated approximately $400 million in annual sales. .

Meanwhile, Intelsat and SES, the world’s largest geostationary orbit (GEO) operators by number of satellites, are in discussions about creating a merged company that would generate about $4 billion in combined revenue.

And GEO fleet operator Eutelsat said it is expected to nearly double annual sales in five years to about $2 billion if its merger with low-Earth orbit (LEO) firm OneWeb is approved this summer.

All of these companies are likely eclipsed in revenues by privately held SpaceX, which raises billions for its launch business as the company rapidly expands its Starlink LEO broadband constellation.

Merge satellite fleets

DiPalma expects the Viasat expansion to post adjusted EBITDA of $1.6 billion, or earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, for the 12 months to March 31, versus $549 million without Inmarsat.

The combined company has 19 satellites in its fleet if you count the Anik F2 on a lifetime lease from Canadas Telesat and approximately 8,000 employees. Inmarsat has supplied 13 of these satellites and approximately 1,800 employees.

Satellite spectrum band Launched Producer Launch provider
From Inmarsat:
I-3 F5 L band February 1998 Lockheed Martin Arianespace
I-4 F1 L band March 2005 EADS Astrium THE
I-4 F2 L band August 2008 Airbus Launch into the sea
I-4 F3 L band August 2008 EADS Astrium THE
I-4 F4 (Alfasat) L band July 2013 EADS Astrium and Thales Alenia Space Arianespace
I-5 F1 (GX1) Ka band August 2013 boeing THE
If-F2 (GX2) Ka band February 2015 boeing THE
I5-F3 (GX3) Ka band August 2015 boeing THE
I-5 F4 (GX4) Ka band May 2017 boeing SpaceX
Inmarsat-S EAN S band June 2017 Thales Alenia Space Arianespace
I-5 F5 (GX5) Ka band November 2019 Thales Alenia Space Arianespace
I-6 F1 (GX6A) L and Ka band December 2021 Airbus MHI extension
I-6 F2 (GX6B) L and Ka band February 2023 Airbus SpaceX
From Viasat:
ViaSat-1 Ka band October 2011 Space Systems / Loral THE
ViaSat-2 Ka band June 2017 boeing Arianespace
KA-SAT *acquired by Eutelsat in 2021 Ka band December 2010 EADS Astrium THE
Anik F2 *lifetime rental from Telesat Ka band July 2004 boeing Arianespace
Wilblue-1 *purchased in 2009 Ka band December 2006 Space Systems / Loral Arianespace
ViaSat-3 Ka band April 2023 boeing SpaceX

SES has more than 70 satellites in medium and geostationary earth orbit, while Intelsat has more than 50 in GEO.

Eutelsat has 38 GEO satellites in orbit and OneWeb has 634 spacecraft in LEO, including a technology demonstrator launched in May.

SpaceX’s Starlink constellation easily overshadows all of these operators combined with over 4,000 satellites in LEO.

While all Viasat and Inmarsats satellites are in geostationary orbit, Inmarsat has two payloads on order that are expected to be launched into a highly elliptical orbit later this year for coverage of the globe’s northernmost latitudes. Inmarsat also has plans for a network in LEO, which Viasat has also explored.

Despite announcing merger plans a year and a half ago, Viasat and Inmarsat spent little time comparing internal plans as they waited to secure regulatory approvals, Inmarsat chief technology officer Peter Hadinger said in an interview with beginning of this year.

The operators officially closed the acquisition on May 30, but have not yet set a date for when they expect to complete the integration process.

The merger and consolidation deals of other operators pending or under consideration, come amid a growing threat to GEO business models from LEO. Starlink has driven subscribers away from Viasat’s residential broadband business, DiPalma noted, and competition is set to intensify as Amazon prepares to roll out initial services from its proposed $10 billion constellation next year.

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