Astrium CEO: Acquisitions to Play Leading Role in Company’s 2012 Growth

[Satellite News 01-20-12] European Aeronautic Defense & Space’s (EADS) technology division Astrium received 3.6 billion euros ($4.64 billion) in new orders in 2011 — beating its estimates by 600 million euros ($774.1 million). Despite the order gains, Astrium generated less than its estimated revenue guidance of 5 billion euros ($6.45 billion), according to its latest financial results issued Jan. 20.

   The company’s 2011 revenue growth was flat compared to its unusually strong 2010 period, when it generated 6 billion euros ($7.74 billion) in orders. Astrium CEO Francois Auque said that the company had a good year despite operating in an increasingly competitive industry and receiving orders in large, multi-year terms from major clients such as Arianespace and the French Defense Ministry.
   Astrium Chief Executive Francois Auque said last year’s order intake represented an increase of EUR600 million compared with the company’s initial projection for 2011. “Our revenue in 2012 should be boosted by about 500 million euros ($645.1 million) thanks to our acquisition of global satellite-based mobility services provider Vizada in December,” Auque said in a statement. “Acquisitions illustrate Astrium’s determination to seize every opportunity for growth, especially in the field of satellite services, and to establish a better balance between our revenues in the institutional markets and in the commercial markets — a strategy which is aligned with EADS’ Vision 2020 outline.”
   Vizada will be integrated with Astrium Services to create a larger satellite telecommunication service provider. Besides the Vizada acquisition, Astrium’s effort to expand its external growth included signing orders for six satellites in 2011 and entering into an agreement to acquire 66.78 percent of the Italian company Space Engineering — a digital telecommunications, RF and antenna equipment engineering specialist for space and ground applications. The company also finalized its acquisition of a 75.1 percent stake in German satellite equipment company ND SatCom.
   Astrium manages the construction of Arianespace’s Ariane satellite launchers and plans to deliver six Ariane 5 launch vehicles to the commercial space launch company in 2012. Arianespace plans to carry out seven Ariane 5 launch missions by the end of the year.
   Astrium’s most significant contract wins in 2011 included: four telecommunication satellites; two Earth observation satellites; the launch of the European Data Relay System (EDRS); and a contract from European Space Agency (ESA) to continue its responsibilities in managing and operating its International Space Station program. Astrium also saw 13 of its built satellites launched in 2011, including the first two Galileo In-Orbit Validation (IOV) satellites and the first satellite of the Pléiades constellation. Astrium Services is the civil operator and exclusive distributor of Pléiades’ high-resolution images.
   Auque said that Astrium’s next move would be to shift focus to its commercial segments in order to offset potential order shortages caused by shrinking national budgets and the current economic crisis. Both the European Union and ESA are scheduled to finalize space budget arrangements for projects that will occur in the next few years. ESA is scheduled for its mid-decade budget meeting in November, where it hopes to determine how it will allocate the 10 billion euros ($12.9 billion) needed to fund its future projects.

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