Yahsat closes deal to become majority shareholder in Thuraya

06 August 2018 | James Pearce

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Satellite communications operator Yahsat has completed a deal to acquire a majority and controlling stake in rival satcomms firm Thuraya.

Thuraya is the United Arab Emirates first homegrown satellite provider, running two satellites which serve over 160 countries. The deal, which is backed by Yahsat owner Mubadala Investment Company, will offer the company the opportunity to diversify its offering, it said.

Yahsat agreed last week to buy Etisalat’s 28% stake in Thuraya for around $37 million, opening the door for it to own a majority stake in the company. Etisalat was one of the key investors when Thuraya was founded in 1997.

"The Thuraya acquisition provides us with an ideal opportunity to grow and diversify our business, bolstering our satellite solutions capabilities on both government and commercial fronts,” said Yahsat CEO Masood Sharif Mahmood.

“By integrating the portfolios of the two companies under the leadership of Ali Al Hashemi, we will together be able to offer a comprehensive mobile and fixed satellite services portfolio, further strengthening our value proposition to our customers.”

As part of the acquisition, Yahsat also announced a number of new appointments among Thuraya’s senior management team.

Ali Al Hashemi, head of Yahsat Government Solutions, has been named as Thuraya’s new CEO, while former CEO Ahmed Al Shamsi will remain as an advisor. Ali Al Hashemi will also remain at his current position at Yahsat.

Yahsat has also appointed Marcu Vilaca as chief technology officer at Thuraya, while Shawkat Ahmed has been named chief commercial officer, succeeding Rashid Baba. Ahmed has more than 22 years of satcomms experience from a variety of roles with Yahsat, Thuraya and Telstra V-Comm.

Ali Al Hashemi, CEO of Thuraya stated: “I would like to thank Ahmed Al Shamsi for his exceptional leadership and contribution towards building Thuraya into a global mobile satellite services player throughout his tenure spanning more than two decades with Thuraya, Ahmed is a true veteran in the satellite industry, Thuraya will benefit from his expertise through his advisory role.”

Yahsat, which operates a fleet of three satellites, said the acquisition of Thuraya will offer a combination of geostationary satellites operating across the C, Ka, Ku and L-bands covering Europe, Africa, the Middle East, South America and Asia.

The deal will see it expand its satellite solutions portfolio across both the commercial and government sectors, allowing Yahsat to tackle the internet of things and M2M space, as well as offering fixed and mobile services spanning both voice and data.

The upcoming issue of Capacity features a special report on satellite communications. To get involved, contact James Pearce on james.pearce@capacitymedia.com