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Arianespace, Essel in advanced talks for Agrani

09-July-2001
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Arianespace, Essel in advanced talks for Agrani

The world’s largest satellite launching company, Arianespace, is in advanced negotiations with the Essel group to acquire a stake in the group’s first satellite venture. The Essel group owns and runs Zee Television Network.

Mumbai-based Essel’s subsidiary, Afro-Asian Satellite Communications, is currently developing Agrani, which could soon become the first private Indian satellite.

Equipped with C and Ku band transponders, the $755-million Agrani will be aimed at servicing broadcasters and providing data services to corporate clients. It is a geo-stationary satellite that will cover India and neighbouring countries in South and Southeast Asia.

Arianespace says, negotiations with Essel group are at an advanced stage and centre on the issue of Arianespace bagging the launch contract as well as acquisition of a minority stake by Arianespace in ASC.

Arianespace had decided to pick up a stake in ASC primarily to show its confidence in the project and the future of private satellite networks in India.

Arianespace will not be the first foreign investor in Agrani. American defence company Lockheed Martin has already taken an equity stake in the venture, valued at $50 million. Videsh Sanchar Nigam is the second major stakeholder with an investment of $50 million.

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