EIB lends €300m to help SES launch three digital satellites

11 Jan 2023

From left: SES CFO Sandeep Jalan, EIB VP Kris Peeters and SES CEO Steve Collar. Image: EIB

The seven-year loan will support SES in bringing advanced broadcast and broadband services to Western Europe, Africa and the Middle East.

The European Investment Bank (EIB) has committed a €300m loan to help connectivity provider SES launch three satellites to expand its services.

The seven-year loan will back investments related to the design, procurement and launch of these satellites, which aim to bring advanced broadcast and broadband services to Western Europe, Africa and the Middle East.

The satellites are scheduled to be launched in 2024, after which they will be operated from the SES headquarters in Luxembourg. The EIB said two of the satellites are next-generation, flexible and fully software-defined, to enable in-orbit adjustments to suit customer demands.

EIB vice-president Kris Peeters said the investment directly supports EU space policy, as this sort of tech, data and services have become “indispensable in the lives of Europeans”.

“Space is a key driver of innovation in Europe and we are eager to support space entrepreneurship,” Peeters said. “The size of the loan, the largest ever provided by the EIB to a Luxembourgish company, also demonstrates how strategically important the space sector is for the EIB and the European Union.”

The EIB said the financing agreement aims to support the Gigabit Society targets of the European Commission, with a goal that all European households have access to at least 100Mbps internet connectivity by 2025.

SES chief financial officer Sandeep Jalan said the loan will help the company broadcast high-quality content “from our prime TV neighbourhood” that serves 118m households in western Europe.

“These next-generation satellites are also able to support the most ambitious plans for companies and governments across Europe and beyond, enabling them to enter the new era of networked connectivity services,” Jalan said.

The three satellites are being procured from aerospace manufacturer Thales Alenia Space, the joint venture between France’s Thales Group and Italy’s Leonardo. The company is involved in a number of EU space projects, including the next generation of EU weather satellites, Meteosat. The first of these satellites launched last month.

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Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic