Gazprom Secures $731 Million in Coface, U.S., Russian Bank Financing Deals

23 September 2010

Satellite Today
Jeffrey Hill

Russian satellite operator Gazprom Space Systems has secured about $731 million in total debt financing to fund the construction and launch of the Yamal-401 and Yamal-402 satellites, Gazprom announced Sept. 22.

The funding will come from a combination of a euro-denominated Coface-backed loan, a U.S. dollar-denominated loan and two credit lines from Gazprombank. The Coface-supported loan is worth 223 million euros ($299 million) and is being arranged by BNP Paribas, Citibank and Credit Agricole CIB. The banks also are lead arrangers and underwriters for a $298 million loan in U.S. dollars. Gazprombank will provide two lines of credit, worth approximately $57 million and $94 million, under nine-year terms.

The presence of French credit export agency Coface in the financing deal will support satellite-manufacturing work by Thales Alenia Space. In May, Thales began building the Yamal 400-series satellites after receiving the first payment from Gazprom.

Yamal-402 is based on the Spacebus-4000 C3 platform and will carry 46 Ku-band transponders to provide mobile coverage over Russia, Europe and Africa. The satellite will be located at 55 degrees East and is scheduled for launch by International Launch Services (ILS) in 2012. Yamal-401 is being built and integrated by ISS Reshetnev, and is based on the Express 2000 platform. Thales will develop the payload and some of the satellite’s platform equipment. Yamal-401 will be located at 90 degrees East and fitted with 36 Ku-band transponders for mainland and northern Russian coverage zones. The satellite also features 17 C-band transponders for broader coverage of the northern regional zone. An ILS Proton rocket will launch the satellite in 2013.

Over the past 18 months, Coface has helped inject about $3 billion into satellite investments. In August, the agency committed a $1.8 billion credit line to Iridium to finance the operator’s next-generation satellite constellation, Iridium Next. In December, SES secured a Coface credit funding facility worth about 523 million euros ($749.5 million) and in March 2009, Globalstar signed an agreement with a Coface-backed syndicate of banks for a $586 million credit facility.  

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