Intelsat ownership may pass on to UK private equity group, BC Partners

London: British private equity firm, BC partners, has emerged as the favorite in the race to acquire a majority stake in satellite network operator Intelsat. The deal may eventually be clinched for as much as $16 billion, including debt. BC Partners apparently outbid several strategic buyers before making it to the top of the list, as the likely new owners of the Bermuda-based satellite operator.

Intelsat was established in 1965 by many of Europe's then state owned communications network operators, and was eventually sold in 2004 to a group of buyout funds that included Apax Partners, Permira, Apollo Management and Madison Dearborn.

Intelsat then added PanAmSat to its global network of satellites, and ended up operating a constellation of 51 satellites. It sells capacity to broadcasters, cable companies and network operators, and claims a 35 per cent share of the global market.

Last year, the company had revenues of $1.7 billion. Intelsat is headquartered in Washington DC in the US.

As BC Partners is a British entity and satellite operators are considered sensitive for national security purposes in the US, the planned acquisition will have to be reviewed by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the US, which vets foreign takeovers on national security grounds.