Sat-ND, 18.3.97

Sat-ND 97-03-18—South Korean Car Manufacturer News

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Asia Satellite Telecommunications Holdings Ltd. (Asiasat) has denied
that there were any problems with the planned launch of ASIASAT 3 in
October aboard a Russian Proton D-1-e. "There is no problem with
Proton or the manufacturer," said Asiasat chief executive Peter
Jackson. And there's no insurance problem, either: "We got a very
favourable rate for that, and so basically we are very confident that
we will be within budget for that ASIASAT 3 project." Of course—Hong
Kong based Asiasat, even though partly owned by the Chinese
government, one year ago decided to use a Russian launcher instead of
China's troubled Long March rocket following the INTELSAT 708
disaster (or should I say "massacre"?) Asiasat, jointly run by China
International Trust and Investment Corporation, Cable and Wireless
Plc. of Britain, and Hutchison Whampoa Ltd. of Hong Kong launched its
first two satellites on the Long March successfully, making the
consortium China's best "international" customer.
ASIASAT 3, based upon the Hughes 601 HP platform, is expected to join
ASIASAT 1, which is coming to the end of its lifetime in 1999, at
105.5°E. ASIASAT 1 will be relocated before that date with ASIASAT
taking over services. 
There will be additional capacity, of course. The new satellite will
be equipped with 28 C-band and 16 Ku-band transponders while its
predecessor has just 24 C-band transponders. It will also offer
increased power that will extend the footprints currently offered by
ASIASAT 1. The satellite's 28 C-band transponders will cover Asia,
the Indian subcontinent, the Middle East and Australia. The 16
Ku-band transponders will have two separate footprints providing
coverage for the Greater China region and India.
By 1999, ASIASAT 4 should be in orbit at 122°E. Currently, Asiasat is
seeking proposals from manufacturers for the construction of that
bird. However, Asiasat plans to buy the U.S. satellite SATCOM 3R, a
veteran launched in November 1981. It has already been moved to 122°E
during the past few weeks even though no deal has been signed.
Asiasat officials even said they were "in negotiations with several
people." That may affect the price—originally estimated at US$20
million, the company expects it to be lower now.

Would anyone buy shares of a Bermuda company that has no revenues and
isn't really operating anything yet? Probably yes—the name of the
company is Iridium World Communications Ltd. Its sole objective is to
buy into Iridium LLC, a consortium led by Motorola, Inc. Other
companies that have invested in Iridium include China's Great Wall
Industry Corp., Russia's Khrunichev State Research and Production
Space Centre, Korea Mobile Telecommunications Corp., Lockheed Martin
Corp., (USA,) Nippon Iridium Corp. (Japan,) Societa Finanziaria
Telefonica per Azioni (Italy,) Thai Satellite Telecommunications Co.,
Vebacom (Germany,) and a number of regional consortiums. 
The whole thing is about global communications, although in a
different form as originally planned by Iridium which by the way
still hasn't any of its low-Earth orbit satellites up and running.
The initial public offering of Iridium World is a low-scale
operation. The company plans to sell ten million common shares,
including two million for international investors. At US$20 a share,
net proceeds from the offering are estimated at US$188 million, the
preliminary prospectus said.
This isn't too much—the sum more or less just amounts to the Iridium
loss of US$134 million in 1996. Iridium's total debt is some US$1
billion now. Until commercial services begin in 1998, Iridium will
need US$4.4 billion in addition to several billions of dollars needed
to meet its funding needs through November 1997. From 1998, Iridium
expects to need US$5 billion. (And you thought that Teledesic's
estimated cost of US$9 billion for 840 satellites was high, didn't
you? Well, the Iridium project consists of just 66 satellites.)

It's not unusual for U.S. TV networks to set up local versions all
over the world. You may know all the NBC outlets all around the
world, but a somewhat different channel seems to be even a bit more
successful in spreading all around. 
Playboy Enterprises Inc., operating the United States' third largest
pay-per-view network, has announced its fifth Playboy TV network to
launch outside the U.S. Funnily enough, Playboy TV's new South-Korean
outlet will be operated in co-operation with Daewoo Corp., a general
trading company owned by Daewoo Group, which at least in Europe is
known as a car manufacturer. (The funny bit is that heterosexual
males in Western countries tend to adore their cars just as much as
women, so Playboy TV would be well-advised to air some car magazines
as well unless they do already. Anyway, the co-operation with Daewoo
opens new opportunities as to that respect.)
Daewoo will control an 85 percent stake in the venture with Playboy
holding a 15 percent stake—the highest equity position a foreign
company can take. The companies said the 24-hour network will
initially be offered in hotels and motels (hmm...) with plans to
deliver it via cable and direct-to-home satellite service shortly
The official launch date for the South-Korean Playboy TV is June 15,
announced Christie Hefner, chairman (I'm not being sexist, believe
you me, that's what the Playboy press release said!) and chief
executive officer of Playboy Enterprises Inc., and Ju-Ho Jung,
president, Daewoo Media and Film Entertainment Group and executive
vice president at Daewoo Corp. 
Other Playboy channels outside the U.S. have been set up with
partners such as Tohokushinsha in Japan; Flextech and BSkyB in the
United Kingdom and Benelux; and Cisneros Television Group in Latin
America and Iberia (Spain and Portugal). 

Here's something about another South Korean company mainly known as a
car manufacturer in Europe. Whether that is deception or
misconception—I leave that up to you.
TV/COM International Inc. Tuesday announced that the company has
officially merged with the Hyundai Digital Video Systems (HDVS)
division of Hyundai Electronics America (HEA). 
The merger combines strengths and broad product offerings of the two
organisations to form an integrated operation capable of developing,
manufacturing and selling end-to-end digital video communications
Since its acquisition by HEA in June of 1995, TV/COM has focused on
building end-to-end digital compression systems for cable, satellite,
PC and telecommunications customers world-wide. 
The TV/COM and HDVS merger brings together more than 400 employees
with technical strengths in developing broadcast quality, real-time
MPEG-2 digital transmission systems for a common customer base. From
TV/COM comes a history of technology expertise with broadband and
satellite end-to-end systems, including satellite IRDs; headend
compression; QAM and QPSK modulators; and network management,
conditional access and encryption technology and software. 
Combined with the major intellectual property in digital set-top
technology from the HDVS division, TV/COM now offers complete
multiple set-top platforms that comply with Digital Video
Broadcasting (DVB) and Society for Cable Engineering (SCTE)
standards, and incorporate the powerful OpenTV application software
Hyundai Electronics Industries Co., Ltd. (HEI) was founded in 1983.
Today, it is one of the largest semiconductor memory manufacturers in
the world. HEI's parent company is Hyundai, Seoul, South Korea, a
US$83 billion [wow! – Ed.] corporation involved in more than 40
business areas, ranging from fabrication, petrochemicals, engineering
and construction, to automobiles (I mentioned that already) finance,
insurance and securities.
Hyundai Electronics America (HEA), a subsidiary of HEI, combines many
business divisions that include computer systems, telecommunications
products, systems ICs and MPEG chips. 
Founded in 1973, TV/COM was acquired in 1995 by Hyundai Electronics
America and is a subsidiary of HEA. The company's products include
digital compression systems, headend equipment, conditional access
systems, scrambling/encryption systems, digital set-top boxes, near
video-on-demand (NVOD) servers and software for subscription,
pay-per-view and interactive entertainment. 

The Russian TV audience will be confronted with ancient relics of
Western commercial TV such as "Dallas" and "Alf" rather sooner than
later. U.S. Network CBS reportedly is poised to pay as much as US$50
million for an equity stake in StoryFirst Communications, the owner
of the commercial CTC TV network that reaches approximately 55
million Russian homes. Apart from dubbed U.S. leftovers, there would
also be some original programming such as talk shows and soap operas.
Should they stick to reality, they would probably make "Dallas" look
like a kindergarten programme anyway.

Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. may acquire Pointcast Inc., the leading
Internet newscaster. The Wall Street Journal reported today that News
Corp. had offered between US$350 million and US$450 million for the
privately held company. A News Corp. spokesman refused to comment on
the report, thus indicating that indeed there may be something going
Pointcast officials had earlier indicated that the company does not
intend to remain privately owned. "An IPO is definitely a possibility
in the near future," said Pointcast Chief Executive Christopher
Hassett. As to the News Corp. take-over rumours, Hassett said "There
are no facts behind that." We'll see.

Copyright 1997 by Peter C. Klanowski, pck@LyNet.De. All rights

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