SES highlighted its “improving trajectory” of Video revenues for the six months to June 30th which were 3.9 percent down y-o-y at €526 million. SES’s argument is that, last year, its lost revenue position for H1 trading was at -8 percent down.
The company’s Networks division’s underlying revenue of €349 million was flat compared with H1 2020 (-0.2 percent at constant FX) with strong ongoing growth in Government (+11.3 per cent) offsetting Covid-related impacts on Mobility (-10.7 per cent) and near-term declines in Fixed Data (-3.9 per cent). Q2 2021 underlying revenue of €176 million was consistent with the prior period (-0.5 per cent y-o-y at constant FX) and 1.1 per cent higher than Q1 2021.
The contract backlog at June 30th 2021 was €5.3 billion (gross backlog of €5.9 billion including backlog with contractual break clauses).
SES seemed to celebrate its €0.40 per share dividend payment despite last week’s significant rise at Eutelsat to an overall €0.93 per share. It informed investors that it had bought in an overall €94 million of its own shares for cancellation since the beginning of this year. SES is delivering more than 8,650 TV channels to 361 million homes. 3,120 are in HD (up 8 percent).
CEO Steve Collar said, “The lasting value of our Video business is reflected in the improved trajectory, the important long-term renewals at our core neighbourhoods, increased penetration of HD TV channels, and new paying subscribers for HD+ in Germany. Excitingly, in H2 2021, we will be expanding and enhancing our HD+ portfolio with the extension onto mobile devices and IP-enabled non-satellite homes. Networks continues to perform well notwithstanding the Covid-impacted environment, notably in Government, reflecting the strong demand for our unique multi-orbit resilient solutions. With O3b mPOWER still over a year away from commercial launch, we have secured over $300 million in backlog from major cruise brands which underscores the compelling combination of high throughput and high flexibility of the constellation.”
Collar updated the market on the C-band process which he said remains fully on track. “The recent issuing of C-band licenses by the FCC is a notable milestone towards initiation of the reimbursement process. Meanwhile, we have returned €275 million of cash to shareholders this year underscoring our commitment to delivering sustained and attractive returns for our shareholders.”
On another note, the only business to enter a bid for Thailand’s orbital slot auction is sitting tenant Thaicom.
An auction, organized by the nation’s National Broadcasting & Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) has seen zero interest from other suitors. NBTC, in something of a last-ditch effort, set August 28th as a new deadline for bids to be entered.
Satellite usage over Thailand is in decline as far as Thaicom’s revenues are concerned. In its latest Q2 numbers, released on August 2nd, Thaicom said that its latest trading for ‘Conventional’ capacity was down 13 percent y-o-y. For its Broadband, its y-o-y revenues slumped 15.1 per cent.
Thaicom’s details showed that reported revenue from its Thaicom 6, 7 and 8 satellites of 473 million Thai baht (about $14.7 million) for the three months ending June 30th was down 11.3 percent from a year ago, but up 2.2 per cent from Q1, helped by new business from an unidentified “foreign customer.”
Thaicom stated, “The committed utilization for conventional satellites, Thaicom 6, Thaicom 7, and Thaicom 8, as at the end of Q2/2021, was 63.7 percent, slightly increased in comparison with Q1/2021 at 63.6 percent.”
The operator’s 16-year-old Thaicom 4/IPStar craft had a fill rate of just 18.1 per cent (and unchanged on the immediately previous quarter-year) but down 4.9 per cent y-o-y.
As far as the auction is concerned, Thaicom said, “Thaicom established TC Space Connect Company Limited (TCSC) with registered capital of Baht 100 million, wholly owned by Thaicom, to submit the application for bidding of the satellite orbital slot auction packages arranged by the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) on July 5th, 2021, and was the only applicant for the auction. To promote the competition in the satellite industry, NBTC decided to extend the submission period for the auction to approximately one month and set the new auction date on August 28th 2021. The Company hereby confirms its intention to participate in the auction, believing that our competency and extended business experiences will enhance our competitive advantage both domestic and international, and is ready to support the Thai satellite industry and increasing demand on its full potential.”
The dilemma facing Thaicom and the government is that Thaicom’s satellite concession expires in September. Thaicom has a pair of legal arguments running with the government.
Lawyers for Intelsat filed their Motion for the court to dismiss the SES demand for Summary Judgement in the SES claim, which – in essence – is demanding a 50/50 share of the FCC’s $9.7 billion incentive payment for the C-band clearance of spectrum over the US. The SES claim would see it receive $450 million of extra cash.
SES is also demanding punitive damages against Intelsat in the amount of $1.35 billion because of Intelsat’s alleged breaches of fiduciary duties and unjust enrichment.
SES is also arguing in its Motion against 35 other (arguably) Intelsat-related businesses and sister/subsidiary companies. Intelsat, in its documents, stresses that it is only Intelsat US LLC that signed and is party to the C-Band Alliance’s Consortium Agreement. SES says that all of these associated Intelsat businesses should be party to its claim.
Lawyers for SES, also on August 2nd, filed their Motion further rebutting Intelsat’s defence arguments. Both sets of documents are littered with redactions in their public versions.
The Intelsat bankruptcy court will start hearing the arguments on August 18th – 20th.