Home Latin America II 1996 NAHUEL – The Regional Satellite System for the Americas

NAHUEL – The Regional Satellite System for the Americas

by david.nunes
Eckart SchoberIssue:Latin America II 1996
Article no.:6
Topic:NAHUEL – The Regional Satellite System for the Americas
Author:Eckart Schober
Title:Chief Executive Officer
Organisation:Nahuelsat S.A.
PDF size:16KB

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Article abstract

In this article Eckart Schober, Chief Executive Officer of Nahuelsat S.A, in Buenos Aires explains about the formation and future plans of a company at the forefront of the telecommunications industry in Latin America.

Full Article

In late 1992 the Government of Argentina decided to issue a tender for a 30 year license to operate a communication satellite system which would work from orbital positions coordinated for the country. A European consortium, under the leadership of Daimler-Benz Aerospace (Germany) working in partnership with Aerospatiale (France) and Alenia Spazio (Italy) was successful in winning the tender and negotiated the long-term license contract. On this basis, the company Nahuelsat S.A. was founded in December 1993. Initially the company started with a capital of US$ 20 million. This money was used to start payments for the purchase of the satellite, for it to be delivered and accepted in orbit, and for the construction and equipment of the ground control station. A comprehensive financing structure was set up and implemented which gave the company US$ 100 million as equity with some additional US$ 150 million of debt financing to cover total project costs calculated to roughly US$ 250 million when financing costs are taken into account. The government provides no material support to the company – the only assistance they have given is the establishment of some restrictions in the market and a commitment that they will preferentially use the facilities for their own needs. This means that Nahuelsat, as the licensee, not only has to satisfy formidable operational requirements such as the total coverage of Argentina at equal power, quantity and quality of transmission capacity, and a strict timeframe for the system operation, but also holds all financial and commercial risk. In compliance with these requirements, Nahuelsat has purchased the satellite in time for delivery in late 1996, with its launch scheduled from French Guyana in October aboard the ARIANE 4 rocket. The financial package has been “engineered” to provide full insurance coverage including a relaunch option and, indeed, a back-up satellite is currently under construction to cover this possibility. Loans of more than US$ 130 million are being provided through the IFC (World Bank Group) and the European Export Credit Agencies – COFACE (from France), HERMES (from Germany) and SAGE (from Italy). The equity of the company was successfully raised (by December 15th 1995) to the required level of US$ 100 million and the ownership of the company is now split in the following way: – · The 3 European sponsors (Daimler-Benz Aerospace, Aerospatiale, Alenia Spazio): 31% · Richerfore Satellite Holding Ltd.: 23.75% · Lampebank International: 11.5% · Banco de la Provincia de Buenos Aires Group: 11.5% · BISA / Bemberg Group: 11.5% · Publicom (Telecom Argentina’s Group): 5.75% · IFC 5% A few more strategic shareholders could join the company by a rearrangement of shares. Leading up to the launch of Nahuel 1, Nahuelsat has been preparing the market for a more sophisticated satellite operation by the utilization of an interim system which already provides KU-Band services. The basis of this interim system are two end-of-life satellites purchased from the Canadian Telesat organization, and which have been providing these particular services to customers in most parts of Argentina, Chile and Uruguay since mid 1993. A major benefit of the provision of this system is that it has allowed the company to sign long-term contracts with clients now for the lifetime of the NAHUEL 1 satellite, which as I have mentioned above will join the interim satellites in service from late 1996 on. The promise of Nahuelsat, and the immediate provision of Ku-Band capacity from the two other satellites, has strongly stimulated the market and initiated a keen desire throughout the whole of the region for modern, satellite supported communication systems. A key reason for this is that it is clearly understood that this type of system can easily provide remote geographical areas with desperately needed communication services by the simple avoidance of natural and artificial boundaries. All types of telecommunication services will be transported through Nahuel 1 which will offer its capacity and services to three specific regions (footprints): · Region 1: “Cono Sur” (Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Paraguay) · Region 2: “Brazil” · Region 3: “Las Americas”, the area from Tierra del Fuego up to Southern USA In particular, the services offered will be voice, data, video and video conference, TV distribution (analog and digital) and Direct-to-home Television. Conclusion Whole populations will profit from this advanced telecom infrastructure, now provided by Nahuelsat, the third satellite operator now in existence in Latin America (the other two are Telecomm – Mexico, and Embratel – Brazil). Through strategic alliances between these operators and with other parties, the customer will be served by an integrated net of communication formats that allow for domestic, regional and even global communications.

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