A large area that houses multiple SES satellite dishes. Connectivity used for Aero

SES to be prominent aero player with plan to buy Intelsat for $3.1b

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Amid major consolidation within the satellite industry and a push for multi-orbit solutions in the mobility markets of maritime and aviation, Luxembourg-headquartered SES has inked an agreement to acquire 100% of the equity of Intelsat for $3.1 billion in cash and certain contingent value rights.

The tie-up will create a mammoth player in satellite. Together, the two companies have a combined fleet of more than 100 Geostationary Earth Orbit (GEO) and 26 Medium Earth Orbit (MEO) satellites.

Their arrangement, which has been unanimously approved by the boards of both firms, comes hard on the heels of Eutelsat’s acquisition of OneWeb, and Viasat’s purchase of Inmarsat. And it comes just two years after Intelsat announced its successful restructuring under Chapter 11.

In addition to enhanced coverage, SES and McLean, Virginia-based Intelsat are touting “the greater network resiliency” that their combined satellite fleet will bring. That resiliency is seen as particularly important right now after several high-profile satellite anomalies and disappointments in industry, including involving Intelsat and SES.

SES and Intelsat also note that they will have complementary spectrum rights (C-, Ku-, Ka-, military Ka-, X-band, and Ultra High Frequency) and an expanded network of ground segment assets.

Aero considerations

Notably, in aviation, SES’s presence will grow substantially. The company is currently a step removed in serving aviation, as it supplies capacity to major integrators like Panasonic Avionics. But it has made some headway in going direct. For instance, in a surprise move, Airbus in 2022 named SES a managed service provider (MSP) for the Ka-band side of its supplier-furnished HBCplus program, offering multi-orbit IFC service involving its GEO satellites and O3b mPOWER MEO satellites.

For its part, Intelsat is already a direct aero ISP for airlines, offering both GEO and multi-orbit inflight connectivity, and winning some clutch deals for the latter in recent months. Interestingly, it is a MSP on the Ku-band multi-orbit side of Airbus’ HBCplus program, as powered by its own GEO network and Eutelsat OneWeb’s LEO aero service, for which it is a distribution partner.

As such, the combined company is expected to have a strong service presence on Airbus types, in addition to Intelsat’s important linefit gains with Airbus in recent years.

Intelsat has also been mulling the launch of a small MEO network, with management saying in March that a decision would come by the end of the second quarter. Whether or not its combination with longtime MEO satellite operator SES will alter those considerations remains to be seen.

“This important, transformational agreement strengthens our business, enhances our ability to deliver world-class customer solutions, and generates significant value for our shareholders in a value accretive acquisition which is underpinned by sizeable and readily executable synergies,” says SES CEO Adel Al-Saleh in a statement.

“In a fast-moving and competitive satellite communication industry, this transaction expands our multi-orbit space network, spectrum portfolio, ground infrastructure around the world, go-to-market capabilities, managed service solutions, and financial profile. I am excited by the opportunity to bring together our two companies and augment SES’s own knowledge base with the added experience, expertise, and customer focus of the Intelsat colleagues.”

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“Going forward,” he continued, “customers will benefit from a more competitive portfolio of solutions with end-to-end offerings in valuable government and mobility segments, combined with value-added, efficient, and reliable offerings for fixed data and media customers. This combination is also positive for our supply chain partners and the industry in creating new opportunities as satellite-based solutions become an increasingly integral part of the wider communications ecosystem.”

The transaction is subject to relevant regulatory clearances, which are expected to be received during the second half of 2025. The combined SES will continue to be headquartered and domiciled in Luxembourg, while maintaining significant presence in the U.S., notably in the greater Washington, D.C. area.

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Featured image credited to SES