BCE sells Telesat to Loral for $3 bil

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TORONTO -- Canadian phone giant BCE Inc. on Monday said it has sold domestic satellite operator Telesat Holdings Inc. to U.S. rival Loral Space and Communications Inc. and a Canadian pension fund for CAN$3.42 billion ($3 billion).

Ottawa-based Telesat, which has 11 satellites in orbit, was sold to New York-based Loral Space and the Public Sector Pension Investment Board as BCE prepares to focus on core phone services.

A scaled-down BCE earlier this year reduced its stake in Bell Globemedia, which operates the CTV Inc. national TV network and the Globe and Mail newspaper, from 68.5% to 20%.

Loral Space beat out three other bidders for Telesat to emerge with a controlling 64% stake in the Canadian satellite operator. The partnering Canadian pension fund will hold a 36% stake.

Loral Space will merge its Loral Skynet division with Telesat to make the newly merged entity the fourth-largest satellite operator worldwide, based on the number of satellites in orbit.

In the management suite, Daniel Goldberg, recently hired by BCE to steer Telesat through the sales process, will remain on board as president and CEO.

Pending regulatory approvals, the deal is expected to close by the middle of next year.

Telesat expects to launch four new satellites over the next three years.

As part of its sales deal with BCE, Telesat agreed to continue supplying satellite transponder capacity for Bell ExpressVu LP, BCE's direct-broadcast satellite service.

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