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Inmarsat IPO May Help Satellite Market

Inmarsat's I-4
by Shihoko Goto
Washington (UPI) June 20, 2005
Satellite may be the next hot investment opportunity for shareholders if the debut of Britain's Inmarsat on the London Stock Exchange is a gauge of the sector's attractiveness to investors worldwide.

The mobile satellite telecommunications company made its initial public offering Friday in hopes of raising 355 million pounds to pay off debt. That target was reached on the first day of the IPO, with the offering being oversubscribed ten-fold for the 150 million shares on offer, or one-third of all available shares. The company's stock price rose 43 pence to 2.45 pounds by the end of the trading day.

"We are delighted with the positive response to the flotation of Inmarsat," said company Chairman Andrew Sukawaty in a statement at Friday's close.

The Inmarsat IPO is the biggest public offering by a British company so far this year, and some industry analysts said the success of the stock's launch on Europe's biggest bourse signals a new dawn for satellite stocks globally.

"Satellite isn't a growth market, but it's stable overall," said Brian Washburn, principal analyst at Current Analysis, a San Diego research group specializing in the technology industry.

Washburn told UPI Monday satellite communications companies were "undervalued ... considering their long-term profits and asset base."

Washburn acknowledged many Wall Street investors have shied away from the telecommunications sector in general since the burst of the dot-com bubble in 2001, but he pointed out some are beginning to realize the satellite communications industry "has a real customer base" that makes it attractive to those seeking steady profits.

The success of Inmarsat, which provides global satellite phone services and specializes in hooking up boats and cruisers to weather maps and the Internet while at sea, was encouraging to rival companies as well.

"We're encouraged by what's happening to the overall marketplace," said Greg Ewert, executive vice president of Iridium Satellite, a privately held satellite communications company based in Bethesda, Md.

Ewert and Richard Halka, Iridium's chief financial officer, spoke to UPI Monday, and Halka said while companies such as PanAmSat in Wilson, Conn., and NewSkies Satellites of the Hague were not able to rake in as much profit on the stock market as had been expected when they went public two years ago, the market for satellite companies to raise capital is "much more attractive now than it was 18 months ago."

A senior executive at a rival satellite company told UPI, on condition of anonymity, Inmarsat could be an anomaly in the satellite business, as it specializes in maritime mobile communications, which could be more prone to investor speculation than other companies.

"There's a lot of interest in satellite radio ... with XM (Satellite Radio) and Sirius (Satellite Radio), so there's more hope that the market will really take off," as compared to the traditional, lower-profile business of launching and maintaining satellites for communications purposes, he said.

A large part of many satellite companies' client base is the government, and Iridium is no exception, with the U.S. Department of Defense being a key client. So for now, the company has no plans to take advantage of improving market conditions and go public, Halka said.

All rights reserved. Copyright 2005 by United Press International. Sections of the information displayed on this page (dispatches, photographs, logos) are protected by intellectual property rights owned by United Press International. As a consequence, you may not copy, reproduce, modify, transmit, publish, display or in any way commercially exploit any of the content of this section without the prior written consent of by United Press International.

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World's Smallest Mobile Broadband Satellite Terminal Unveiled In Singapore
Singapore (SPX) Jun 16, 2005
The world's smallest and lightest mobile broadband satellite terminal was launched in Singapore on Wednesday by Nera Telecommunications (NeraTel), a listed company on the Singapore Exchange.

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