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Inmarsat to invest $1.2bn in satellites

10 августа 2010

Inmarsat, the communications provider, is to invest $1.2bn (£751m) in a new fleet of next-generation satellites, despite reporting first-half results showing that trading in its core maritime business is challenging.

The FTSE 100 group, which provides telephony services to ships, aeroplanes, the military and other people in remote areas, said the order of three Ka-band satellites from Boeing would allow it to offer a high-speed mobile broadband service covering the globe.

The investment had been widely expected after several years in which Inmarsat had reported growing demand for data services and less reliance on voice calls.

The move was welcomed by analysts and the shares rose 28½p to 741½p. There was also talk in the market that a large short position in the stock had been closed.

“Management did a good job of convincing people this was not a ‘build it and they will come’ investment plan,” said Mark James, an analyst at Liberum Capital. “The emphasis was very much on it being customer-demand driven.”

The project will begin in 2014 and target $500m of annual revenues five years after launch of the broadband service. Boeing has already agreed to purchase $50m worth of capacity in that period.

Inmarsat has been using the L-band spectrum to provide broadband links, but the technology can only offer limited speeds.

By contrast, the Ka-band spectrum can transmit up to 50 megabytes of data per second in the world’s remotest locations.

Inmarsat plans to defer more than $500m of planned replacement expenditure for its existing L-bandsatellites in the next 11 years.

The first-half results were in line with expectations as demand for mobile broadband services in natural disaster zones offset sluggishness in its maritime business, as shipping remained subdued.

Revenue for the six months to June 30 rose 12.2 per cent to $570.7m while pre-tax profits rose 57 per cent to $151.8m.

Revenues from land mobile services rose 14 per cent to $79m as it provided services to rescue workers and news crews in earthquake-hit Haiti and Chile.

“No one wants it to happen but these events happen on a frequent basis. We’re there and we will provide an important service,” said Andrew Sukawaty, chief executive.

The interim dividend rises 10 per cent to 14 cents.

Источник: Financial Times

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