Permira pumps $200m into satellites

In its third Asian deal, Permira has agreed an all-equity purchase of Citigroup Venture Capital International’s majority stake in Asian Broadcast Satellite.

European private equity firm Permira is adding to its Asian deal roster and augmenting its satellite holdings with a $200 million-plus, all-equity deal for a majority stake in Asian Broadcast Satellite (ABS), a source close to the deal confirmed.

The private equity firm “did not need to get leverage to do the deal, but would continue to monitor along with the company the appropriate capital structure for the company”, the source said.

Permira declined to comment.
The sale of Bermuda-headquartered global satellite operator ABS represents an exit of undisclosed magnitude for Citigroup Venture Capital International (CVCI), which has been the majority shareholder of ABS since 2006. CVCI was not available for comment at press time.

The deal is only Permira’s third investment in Asia, where the firm has had a base since opening its Tokyo office in 2005. In October 2007, the firm acquired a 20 percent stake in Macau-based casino operator Galaxy Entertainment for €593 million. The transaction was followed by a €1.95 billion investment in Japanese agrochemical company Arysta LifeScience in February 2008.

It is also Permira’s third investment in the satellite sector. The firm invested in British mobile satellite communications services provider Inmarsat in 2003; and Intelsat, a Luxembourg-headquartered provider of fixed satellite services, in 2005. According to the Permira’s statement, it made 4x and 10x returns respectively on these prior investments.

Founded in 2006, ABS supplies bandwidth connectivity to broadcasting and telecom customers in around 30 countries. The company currently operates four satellites in orbit, with two additional in the pipeline.