The Apstar-6C satellite, shown here during integration, is being built by China Great Wall Industry Corp. under a $180-million in-orbit delivery contract. It is scheduled for launch in mid-2018. Credit: APT Satellite Holdings

PARIS — Satellite fleet operator APT Satellite Holdings Ltd. reported flat revenue and profit for the first six months of 2017, with a dip in its fleet’s fill rate and continued downward pressure on bandwidth prices.

The company said it concluded a second tranche of investment in APT Mobile Satcom Ltd., a Chinese-owned company planning a fleet of three or four mobile Ku-/Ka-band mobile communications satellites in geostationary orbit.

Hong Kong-based APT Satellite Holdings has a 30% stake in APT Mobile. Investment as of June 30 totaled around $44 million. Its total investment, to retain its 30% share, is expected to be around $88 million at current exchange rates.

The APT Mobile venture is starting out with building the Apstar 6D satellite, with a late-2016 contract with China Great Wall Industry Corp. (CGWIC) of Beijing. The satellite is scheduled for launch in 2019.

The APT Mobile partners to date have not firmed up their initial latter of intent, which calls for a total investment of around 10 billion Chinese renminbi ($1.5 billion) in a four-satellite constellation.

APT officials in recent months have said they are still weighing whether to go all-in on the project.

APT currently operates four satellites over Asia, operating from four orbital positions.

Two satellites coming in 2018

In addition to Apstar 6D, it has two satellites on order — the C- and Ku-band Apstar 5C/Telstar 18 Vantage, being built in collaboration with Telesat of Canada and under construction by Space Systems Loral (SSL); and the Apstar 6C, being built by CGWIC and carrying C-, Ku- and Ka-band capacity. Both are scheduled for launch, by SpaceX’s Falcon 9  and China’s Long March rocket, respectively, in 2018.

APT said the 181 commercially available transponders it had as of June 30 were 68.4% full, down marginally the fill rate as of last Dec. 31. The company’s business is 66% data and 33% video.

In its presentation to shareholders, APT said maintaining a relatively high fill rate should help it weather the supply glut that it expects will continue throughout 2017.

“The oversupply situation of the global transponder market will continue,” APT said.

For the six months ending June 30, APT reported revenue of 598.9 million Hong Kong dollars, or $76.7 million, down slightly from a year ago. But EBITDA, or earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, was 84.3% of revenue, up from 82.7% last year.

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Peter B. de Selding
Peter B. de Selding
Peter de Selding is a Co-Founder and editor for SpaceIntelReport.com. He started SpaceIntelReport in 2017 after 26 years as the Paris Bureau Chief for SpaceNews where he covered the commercial satellite, launch and the international space businesses. He is widely considered the preeminent reporter in the space industry and is a must read for space executives. Follow Peter @pbdes