Multi-orbit satellite operator SES is nearing the realization of long-term strategic objectives. The company has successfully deployed geostationary satellites, enabling it to claim approximately $3 billion in C-band spectrum clearing proceeds. Additionally, SES is just a few months away from launching initial services for its upgraded O3b mPower broadband network in medium Earth orbit (MEO).
However, the surprise retirement announcement of CEO Steve Collar on June 12 raised eyebrows. Collar, with over 20 years of experience at Luxembourg-based SES, including five as CEO, was replaced by Ruy Pinto, who previously served as the company’s chief technology officer and joined in 2017.
During Pinto’s first earnings call as CEO on August 3, he disclosed an electrical glitch affecting the first four O3b mPower satellites. This issue occasionally caused power module failures but did not affect payload performance significantly. As a result, the launch of the fifth and sixth satellites, essential for initial services, was delayed. Boeing is contracted to provide 11 O3b mPower satellites to complete the operator’s second-generation MEO constellation.
Pinto, speaking at Euroconsult’s World Satellite Business Week conference in Paris, emphasized the operator’s focus on its unique capabilities in MEO, investments in O3b mPower, and its strong position in markets such as cruise and government. He also mentioned the company’s pursuit of industry consolidation, including the acquisition of DRS, emphasizing SES’s belief in the logic of consolidation.
Regarding potential competition, Pinto acknowledged the presence of Starlink and future competition from Project Kuiper and Telesat Lightspeed. He mentioned that the competition might extend to MEO with Intelsat exploring options for this orbit. However, Pinto stated that SES has a head start in MEO and does not lose sleep over potential competition.
When asked about their strategy under his leadership, Pinto highlighted building upon new assets like O3b mPower, protecting the video business, focusing on segments with a competitive advantage, and investing in technology and partnerships to leverage their strong financial position. Pinto also expressed the need to carefully consider how to invest the C-band proceeds and mentioned the progress made in resolving the technical glitch with O3b mPower.
Overall, SES is positioning itself for success by harnessing its strengths and adapting to changing market dynamics.