Intelsat files for bankruptcy, seeks to restructure

An Ariane 5 in 2019 carries a communications satellite from Intelsat, which filed for bankruptcy protection May 14, 2020

Global satellite operator Intelsat filed for bankruptcy protection on Thursday, citing disruption from to its business from the virus pandemic, in a move aimed at restructuring its operations.

The filing in US bankruptcy court in Virginia listed more than $16 billion in debt.

The company said in a statement it was “managing the economic slowdown impacting several of its end markets caused by the COVID-19 global health crisis.”

It said bankruptcy protection would help it restructure its balance sheet as it reorganizes operations, and that business would continue during this process.

The company is scheduled to receive $4.87 billion for exiting the C-band required by the US Federal Communications Commission for 5G, or fifth generation wireless networks in the United States.

But it needs to spend more than $1 billion on “clearing activities” before receiving any payments.

“This is a transformational moment in the history of our company,” said chief executive Stephen Spengler.

“This will position us to invest and pursue our strategic growth objectives, build on our strengths, and serve the mission-critical needs of our customers with additional resources and wind in our sails.”

Intelsat, originally formed to promote global satellite communications in the 1960s and later privatized, operates more than 50 geostationary satellites as rival operators move to new space-based systems for internet communications.

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