$250m African satellite project reaches financial close

The New Dawn satellite will provide communication capacity to mobile telecommunications networks, internet service providers and satellite television broadcasters across Africa. Its development is being financed 85% with debt and only 15% equity.

A team of investors that includes South Africa-based Convergence Partners and fixed satellite service provider Intelsat today reached financial close on a $250 million project to construct, launch and operate a commercial communications satellite for the African continent.

New Dawn: helping Africa
communicate

The New Dawn satellite will provide communication capacity to mobile telecommunications networks, internet service providers and satellite television broadcasters across Africa. Construction is now underway and it is expected to launch by the end of 2010.

As of 9 December, approximately 50 percent of the satellite’s capacity was under contract. It is expected to be in service for 15 years.

South African bank Nedbank and the Industrial Development Corporation of South Africa, a state-owned national development finance institution, were the largest participants in the project’s $215 million of non-recourse project debt financing.

The $35 million of equity was provided by Intelsat ($25 million) and a Convergence Partners-led consortium ($10 million), which included affiliates of the Oppenheimer family’s private equity portfolio.

Convergence Partners is a telecommunications, media and technology-focused investment firm active in Africa and the Middle East. 

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer acted as legal advisor to Nedbank on the transaction.