Avanti to expand African reach with third satellite

The launch of a third satellite, HYLAS 3, will give Avanti Communications PLC the ability to "cherry-pick" customers in AfricaThe launch of a third satellite, HYLAS 3, will give Avanti Communications PLC the ability to "cherry-pick" customers in AfricaThe launch of a third satellite, HYLAS 3, will give Avanti Communications PLC the ability to "cherry-pick" customers in Africa, according to the company's chief executive

Avanti, which sells satellite data communications services to telecoms companies that use them to supply residential, enterprise and institutional users, said recently that it has conditionally raised US$117mn in a share placing to fully fund the cost of the design, construction and launch of HYLAS 3.

"The satellite technology from HYLAS 3 is wonderful for emerging markets and gives us the flexibility to cherry-pick customers," Chief Executive, David Williams, told Dow Jones in an interview.

The company has already launched HYLAS 1, which covers Europe and HYLAS 2, which extends the company's coverage to the Middle East and Africa, is due to be launched in summer. HYLAS 3, which is expected to go into orbit in 2015, will increase Avanti's exposure to emerging markets to 80 per cent, from 70 per cent after the launch of HYLAS 2.

"We don't currently have coverage in the Gulf of Guinea, where there's huge oil wealth," said Williams, adding that the company sees attractive opportunities with large oil companies in Nigeria, for example. He also pointed to democratic liberalisation in North Africa, which "could lead to better economic growth" and added, "the design of this satellite means that I can put it where I want it quickly responding to demand where it emerges."

The success of the share placing, which Williams sees as much preferable to taking on debt, demonstrates that his confidence in the company's ability to generate strong revenues, is shared by investors, he said.

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