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US Said To Block US-China Deal On Asian Satellite Operator

An AsiaSat satellite.
by Staff Writers
Hong Kong (AFP) Apr 27, 2007
The United States has rejected a bid by a US-China venture to take private a Hong Kong-based satellite operator, invoking export approval powers dating back to the Cold War, a report said Thursday.

GE Capital Equity Investments of the United States and Beijing-controlled Citic Group had offered to take Asia Satellite Telecommunications (AsiaSat) off the market in a 295 million US dollar deal, the Financial Times reported.

Both companies each hold 34 percent of AsiaSat. The deal, which requires approvals from several governments, would have given the two companies a 50-50 percent share of AsiaSat, it said.

But the US State Department refused to give the plan the go-ahead. It was subject to the US International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), which govern the export of technologies with potential military applications.

"Under the company's current shareholder structure everything is fine but (the) State (Department) said: 'If AsiaSat goes out and changes (its structure), how we approach the company is going to change'" an unnamed source familiar with the situation was quoted as saying.

Citing several unnamed sources, the report also said the US government did not give any reasons for its decision or indicate what kind of changes it would accept.

AsiaSat operates three satellites built by US aerospace giants Boeing and Lockheed Martin.

The ruling comes after China conducted a successful anti-satellite missile test in January -- the first successful demonstration of such a capability by any country in more than 20 years -- sparking sharp US concerns.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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