TAMPA, Fla. — Norwegian state-run telco Telenor announced plans Nov. 16 to sell its satellite division to Space Norway, part of the country’s space agency, in a deal worth around $216 million.
The Norwegian government fully owns Space Norway and is seeking parliamentary permission for the capital needed to finance the transaction, which would help consolidate the country’s space interests.
“The acquisition will contribute to the establishment of a major Norwegian satellite operator, which, together with a growing Norwegian space industry, can strengthen Norway as a space nation,” said Jan Christian Vestre, Norway’s Minister of Trade and Industry.
“At the same time, the acquisition ensures that Norway, in a time of increasing geopolitical unrest, maintains control over satellites crucial for critical societal functions and strategically important for the country.”
The Norwegian government owns a majority of the shares Telenor trades on Norway’s main stock exchange.
Telenor Satellite owns and operates three geostationary spacecraft at 1 degree West — Thor 5, Thor 6, and Thor 7 — and also leases capacity from an Intelsat satellite at the same orbital slot, giving it telecom and broadcast coverage across Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa.
Space Norway was set up about a decade ago to procure spacecraft for the Arctic Satellite Broadband Mission (ASBM), a $450 million two-satellite system in highly elliptical orbits to provide connectivity at latitudes beyond where geostationary satellites can reach.
Northrop Grumman of the United States is providing the satellites for a SpaceX Falcon 9 launch slated this year from Vandenberg Space Force Base, California.
Space Norway also operates four maritime surveillance spacecraft for the Norwegian Coastal Administration, and has plans for two more small radar satellites to monitor Norwegian waters.
The company also manages undersea fiber-optic cables connecting mainland Norway to a Svalbard ground station site operated by KSAT, a polar satellite infrastructure provider Space Norway half owns.
Dag Stølan, Space Norway’s CEO, said acquiring Telenor Satellite’s assets would bolster Norway’s global space presence and pave the way for new projects.
“The process of acquiring a new satellite in the Thor series will start at once,” said Stølan, who took the company’s helm in June.
Although the deal would see Telenor divest space operations to focus on its core terrestrial communications business, the telco has signed a letter of intent with Space Norway that outlines its continued cooperation on new satellite services.
Space Norway and Telenor Satellite generated about 1.8 billion Norwegian krone ($165 million) in combined revenues for 2022, and had an order backlog of around 13 billion Norwegian krone.
The combined group would employ around 170 employees.
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