Global ambitions of an ME satellite operator

by Staff Reporter | April 2nd, 2013

Khaled bin Ahmed Balkheyour, President and CEO of Arabsat

What is your vision for the company?

Arabsat has adopted a clear vision that was presented before the satellite industry during Euroconsult 2012 in Paris, to be among the top five satellite operators in the world by 2020. Arabsat’s strategic goals and plans were put in place to pursue this vision, and implementation has already started.

Our strategic plan relies on two major parallel growth paths; organic – by initiating the  Arabsat sixth generation satellites’ programme comprising of three new satellites to be designed, manufactured and launched by 2016, and inorganic – by pursuing viable investment opportunities to expand the operations of the company and enter new markets.

Our strategic plan relies on two major parallel growth paths; organic – by initiating the  Arabsat 6th generation satellites’ programme comprising of three new satellites to be designed, manufactured and launched by 2016, and inorganic – by pursuing viable investment opportunities to expand the operations of the company and enter new markets.

What are your specific goals for 2013?

One major goal was the closing of Arabsat’s first acquisition. Arabsat has acquired 99.05% of the Greek satellite operator, Hellas-sat. The transaction is undergoing final approvals from concerned authorities, as we speak. So this was a major goal on the corporate level. Arabsat is also working on several joint ventures and partnership agreements that are going to transform the whole broadcasting industry in the Middle East and can’t be disclosed now, some big announcements are to be made in the near future. Arabsat is also finalising the design of two of its new satellites.

What were your achievements in 2012?

2012 was a rewarding year for Arabsat, a YoY growth of 13% was achieved in terms of operational revenues. Arabsat has finalised the design and signed the manufacturing contract of its new satellite Badr-7 to be placed at 26° East which is Arabsat hotspot for TV and DTH allowing for huge new capacities to be introduced in the region to accommodate more HDTV channels. Arabsat has also signed a lifetime-hosted multipurpose payload in Ka-band to serve the Middle East and Africa for services like VSAT, broadband and trunking.

Arabsat has been awarded the best satellite operator in the world by the independent study and survey conducted by the WTO in the year 2012 bypassing even the four largest satellite operators in the world.

What surprised you in 2012?

The satellite industry continues to be predictable by nature and leaves no room for surprises. However, I am growing a little bit sceptical about a lot of the Ka-band satellites that have been announced. It makes me wonder whether all those satellites are based on robust visibility studies or just driven by technology providers to create a market for their products.

What would top your wish list as CEO?

Arabsat is starting to outline its first steps as it progresses from a regional satellite operator to being a global one. All commercial and technical activities are being carried out for that sole purpose. I hope to see those efforts continue in full throttle keeping the customer’s needs and interests as its main driver.

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