PLDT unit to acquire stake in satellite firm
() - September 18, 2008 - 12:00am

Telecommunications giant Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. (PLDT), through subsidiary Mabuhay Satellite Corp. is acquiring an equity position in ProtoStar Ltd., a Bermuda- based satellite company, even as PLDT has reserved the option to make further investments in the satellite firm.

PLDT chairman Manuel Pangilinan said their investment in ProtoStar affirms the former’s commitment to the telecommunications industry and provides a platform for future growth in the industry through one of Asia ’s upcoming regional satellite operators.

As part of several agreements signed between PLDT, Mabuhay and ProtoStar covering multiple areas of cooperation, certain Mabuhay assets will be used to acquire an interest in ProtoStar. No other details of the investment by PLDT in ProtoStar were disclosed.

The agreements also include the expanded use of Mabuhay’s Subic Space Center for the operation and control of satellites, an option for PLDT to make further investments in ProtoStar, and an agreement for PLDT to lease C band transponder capacity on ProtoStar’s recently launched ProtoStar I satellite.

Overall, the agreements should enhance ProtoStar’s pan-Asian reach while extending Mabuhay’s presence in the region, officials from both companies said.

ProtoStar I was successfully launched on July 7, 2008 from Kourou, French Guiana. ProtoStar I has on board 22 Ku-band transponders and 38 C-band transponders.

The Ku-band transponders will support the rapidly expanding direct-to-home (DTH) television markets of India and IndoChina, while the C-band transponders will serve the rapidly growing cellular phone markets of Southeast Asia.

A ProtoStar II satellite is now in its final manufacturing stages with a scheduled launch in the spring of 2009. ProtoStar plans to develop and launch several other satellites in the coming years to serve Asia’s businesses requiring transponder capacity.

PLDT president and CEO and Mabuhay chairman Napoleon Nazareno pointed out that PLDT and Mabuhay’s collaboration with ProtoStar will enable PLDT to enjoy full diversity and protection for its satellite needs as ProtoStar continues with its satellite fleet expansion plans.

The PLDT group uses significant satellite capacity for its GSM backhaul requirements for its rural cell sites, and this diversification will add to the robustness of the PLDT Group’s network, he said.

For his part, Mabuhay president and CEO Gabriel Pimentel said:“We are happy that ProtoStar has found value in Mabuhay’s Satellite telemetry, tracking and control capabilities which have been built through our experience in ably operating the Agila-2 satellite. This collaboration with ProtoStar ushers Philippine satellite operations into a new era of growth.”

Meanwhile, ProtoStar president and CEO Philip Father added that “this collaboration represents a win-win-win for PLDT, Mabuhay and ProtoStar in that together we expand our satellite fleets and customer base as well as our ground systems in a value-adding strategic manner that is terrific for our respective customers and shareholders.”

Mabuhay is the first and only Philippine satellite operator. It is engaged in the business of owning, operating and maintaining international satellite facilities and other forms of telecommunications equipment capable of providing international and domestic communication links to telecommunications, broadcast and other public utility companies in the Philippines and other countries.

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