Liberty Satellite & Technology Inc. is again beefing up its
satellite-broadband portfolio, this time announcing that it will snap up the
remaining assets of Astrolink International LLC.
The agreement -- signed with fellow Astrolink owners Lockheed Martin Corp.,
Northrop Grumman Corp., Mission Systems and Telespazio S.p.A -- would give
Liberty 100 percent ownership of the Bethesda, Md.-based
satellite-broadband-communications service, which was founded in 1999.
Liberty Satellite already has a 31.5 percent ownership in Astrolink, which
has plans to launch nine high-powered Ka-band satellites offering high-speed
satellite connections worldwide.
Under the deal -- which is expected to close in late October -- Liberty
Satellite will acquire substantially all of Astrolink's assets, subject to
regulatory approval, which will also hinge on Liberty Satellite's ability to
secure adequate funding or firm capacity commitments from customers.
In return, Astrolink has contracted with Lockheed Martin Corp. and Northrop
Grumman to build two satellites.
If the deal goes through, Liberty Satellite will pay about $43 million in
cash and issue approximately $3 million in series-A common stock for the
Astrolink assets, plus provide additional funding for the start-up.
Parent Liberty Media Corp. will then make a maximum $55 million capital
contribution to Liberty Satellite in exchange for shares of Liberty Satellite's
series-B common stock.
Liberty Satellite is planning to redirect the Astrolink service, marketing
the satellite service to provide enterprise customers with
virtual-private-network and other advanced services. It will also seek contracts
with government agencies.
Just last month, Liberty Satellite also bumped up its investment in WildBlue
Communications, a start-up hoping to launch a residential and small-business
Ka-band satellite-broadband service in 2004.