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Liberty bails on Astrolink

Wed, 10/29/2003 - 7:00pm
Jeff Baumgartner

Liberty Satellite & Technology said it has scrapped an initial agreement to restructure broadband satellite firm Astrolink International LLC.

In January, Liberty announced plans to acquire Astrolink 's assets for a combination of cash and stock.

Upon termination of the deal, Liberty Satellite said it will receive $7.8 million in cash in exchange for its equity interest in Astrolink. Liberty Satellite acquired 31.5 percent of Astrolink in March 2000. The remaining stakes in Astrolink are distributed among Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Telespazio.

Founded in 1999, Astrolink originally planned to launch nine Ka-band satellites to create high-speed footprints in the Americas, the Atlantic, East Asia and Australia, Europe, Africa, West Asia and Oceania.

Despite scuttling plans involving Astrolink, Liberty Satellite still has interests in the broadband satellite sphere. Late last year, Liberty Satellite, along with Intelsat and the National Rural Telecommunications Cooperative, agreed to infuse another Ka-band-based startup, WildBlue Communications, with $156 million.

Liberty Media shareholders are scheduled to meet Nov. 12 to vote on whether the company will acquire the remaining publicly held common stock of its Liberty Satellite subsidiary.

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