Satellite Operator Intelsat Approached By Private-Equity Buyer

The private equity owners of the world's largest commercial satellite operator, Intelsat, have been approached by a potential buyer of the company, two sources familiar with the matter said on Monday.

The approach came from a potential buyer in the private equity industry, one of the sources said. Credit Suisse is handling sale of the satellite company, that source added.

Intelsat was taken private in August 2004 by four private equity firms -- Apax Partners, Permira, Apollo Management and Madison Dearborn Partners -- in a $3.1 billion deal. Months later, Intelsat expanded by agreeing to buy another large satellite operator, PanAmSat.

Private equity firms in particular are drawn to the satellite sector because of the companies' steady cash flows, which allow them to take on large amounts of debt to finance transactions.

The Wall Street Journal reported on its Web site that Intelsat's private equity owners hope to fetch an equity value of up to $6 billion for the company, which already carries an $11 billion debt load. The sale was essentially kicked off by an approach from the Blackstone Group, the Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

Intelsat, Blackstone Group and Credit Suisse were not immediately reachable for comment. The Journal reported that an Intelsat spokeswoman said that "as a matter of policy, we don't comment on market rumors."

SES Global and Eutelsat Communications are among the other major satellite providers, besides Intelsat and PanAmSat.