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Satmex satellite flies; deal ahead

Rivals kicking the tires as co. nears end to bankruptcy proceedings

MEXICO CITY — Bankrupt Mexican satellite firm Satelites Mexicanos (Satmex) successfully placed a much-needed satellite in orbit this past weekend. Meanwhile, a reported deal with the company’s creditors has sparked speculation of a possible sale.

Financial troubles had prevented the launch of the satellite for three years. An Arianespace rocket launched from French Guiana deployed the satellite Saturday.

Company had been crippled since the failure of one of its satellites in 2004.

Satmex president Sergio Autrey said Satmex 6 would increase the company’s capacity by 60% and provide up to $70 million in annual revenue.

Satmex, 49% owned by Loral Communications, has been in bankruptcy proceedings since last year but has reportedly reached a deal with the majority of its creditors.

Satmex defaulted on $520 million in U.S.-held bonds in 2003; Autrey also defaulted on $188 million owed to the Mexican government, which still owns about 24% of the company.

Deal likely gives U.S. bondholders a chunk of firm’s equity.

Other satellite companies are poised to make an offer for Satmex. Interested parties include Mexican mogul Clemente Serna, who is partnered with SES Americom in Mexican satellite firm Quetzsat.

Autrey wants to sell the company through an auction in hopes of fetching a higher price.

But Serna reportedly has initiated talks to purchase debt from U.S. bondholders, which could allow him to take a controlling equity stake and avoid a competitive bid.

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