O3b raises USD 1.2B to see it through to service launch
LUXEMBOURG, Monday, November 29th 2010 [ME NewsWire]:
(BUSINESS WIRE)-- Global satellite operator SES S.A. (Paris:SESG) (LuxX:SESG) announced today that it is participating in a second round of equity financing for O3b Networks in which SES has a minority equity participation. O3b Networks is the developer of a new fiber-quality, satellite-based, global internet backbone for telecommunications operators and internet service providers in emerging markets. This second round of funding secures the financing required to take O3b through to its service launch in the first half of 2013.
O3b has now raised a total of USD 1.2 billion from a group of investors and banks. The funding comprises a USD 510 million Coface-backed debt facility, a USD 115 million senior commercial debt facility, a USD 145 million mezzanine tranche and USD 410 million in equity financing, of which approximately USD 230 million is new equity investment. The Coface-backed facility is being supplied by a number of international banks. The senior commercial debt and the mezzanine have predominantly been taken up by institutional investors.
SES will make an additional equity investment of up to USD 75 million in cash in the next three years. SES, HSBC and Liberty Global are the lead sponsors of the group of investors which also includes Google, North Bridge Venture Partners as well as new investors, Sofina, DBSA (the Development Bank of Southern Africa) and Satya, to provide the equity funding.
Including this new investment, SES has agreed to invest up to a total of USD 155 million. Its shareholding will be approximately 34 percent, and is expected to rise over the next two years to approximately 44 percent, also taking into account in-kind services that SES is contributing to O3b Networks. These in-kind services include engineering, commercial and other support to O3b in order to assist the company’s development.
O3b is building the world’s first ultra-low latency, fiber speed satellite network to serve as a global internet backbone and next generation backhaul infrastructure for people and businesses in emerging markets. The service will combine the speed of a fiber network with the global reach of a satellite system, and will enable telecommunications providers and internet service providers to serve billions around the world.
“We are very pleased with the success of this final round of funding, and the opportunity to be an integral part of this new and exciting venture,” said Romain Bausch, President and CEO of SES. “With their innovative satellite network, O3b will be able to provide emerging markets with the fast and reliable internet connectivity that they currently do not have. This investment also perfectly complements our strategy to increase SES’ presence in developing countries, and to ensure satellite’s prominent role in their future.”
O3b will initially launch eight satellites that will be placed in medium earth orbit 8,000 kilometers from the earth, which is much closer to the planet than geostationary satellites at over 35,000 kilometers, and accounts for the low latency of the service. This innovative satellite system will cover approximately 70 percent of the world’s population with fiber quality internet connectivity at attractive terms and conditions.
SES (Paris:SESG) (LuxX:SESG) wholly owns the market-leading satellite operators SES ASTRA and SES WORLD SKIES and participations in Ciel in Canada and QuetzSat in Mexico, as well as a strategic participation in satellite infrastructure start-up O3b Networks. SES provides outstanding satellite communications solutions via a global fleet of 44 satellites. For further information: www.ses.com
About O3b Networks Ltd.
O3b Networks is building a new fiber-quality, satellite-based, global Internet backbone for telecommunications operators (telcos) and Internet service providers (ISPs) in emerging markets. The O3b Networks system will combine global reach and the speed of a fiber-optic network. With investments and operational support from SES, Google, Liberty Global, HSBC Principal Investments, Northbridge Venture Partners, Allen & Company, Development Bank of Southern Africa, Sofina and Satya Capital, the O3b system will provide telcos and ISPs with a low-cost, high-speed alternative to connect their 3G, WiMAX and fixed-line networks to the rest of the world. This will allow billions of consumers and businesses in more than 150 countries to benefit from high-speed Internet connectivity for educational, medical and commercial applications. O3b Networks’ headquarters is in St. John, Jersey, Channel Islands.
For more information, please visit: www.o3bnetworks.com.
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