Tycoon to buy satellite operator
A company owned by Chinese tycoon Wang Jing is taking over an Israeli satellite operation firm for $285 million.
Wang said the deal is expected to help Beijing Xinwei Telecom Technology to access “scarce resources” in outer space, as the number of available positions on some satellite orbits is falling.
Wang is known for his plan to build a $50 billion canal project spanning Nicaragua, connecting the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.
Beijing Xinwei is to acquire a 100 percent stake in Spacecom Satellite Communications through its unit Luxembourg Space Telecommunications, the technology company said in a statement on Wednesday.
“After the acquisition, we will be able to provide services to 95 percent of the world’s people and gain a professional team with 20 years’ experience in satellite operations,” the statement said.
A researcher at the China Academy of Space Technology, who declined to be named, said this makes Xinwei the first private company to acquire scarce orbit resources in an industry that is highly controlled and run mainly by the military.
“This access is a really valuable asset, because the number of available slots on high Earth orbits is quite limited, and only a few permits are granted each year to countries around the world for the launch of satellites,” the researcher said.
High Earth orbit refers to an orbit around the Earth at an altitude over 36,000 km.
“The United States and Russia dominate the satellite market in terms of manufacturing and operating, and this deal will unlock the potential for Chinese satellite companies,” the researcher said.
The deal is not the first foray for Beijing Xinwei, which specializes in mobile network development and space industry products.
In 2013, the company launched a satellite, jointly developed with Tsinghua University, aimed at providing a cheaper alternative to foreign satellite providers in ocean and desert areas.