Intelsat files for bankruptcy protection

Darrell Etherington

Global satellite operator Intelsat has voluntarily filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, the company announced late on Wednesday. Intelsat has attempted to position this as a positive moment that sees it embark on a "financial restructuring" project to enable its future growth, but a bankruptcy filing is seldom cause for celebration.

The company cites a need to participate in the FCC's C-band spectrum clearing for 5G network build out in the U.S. as one of the factors behind its decisions to file, as well as "managing the economic slowdown impacting several of its markets caused by the COVID-19 global health crisis."

Intelsat notes that its current plan involves no changes to the day-to-day operation of the company, or any reduction in headcount. The company also said that it has secured $1 billion in committed new financing, which will come in the form of debtor-in-position funds, subject to court approval. That just describes any company that plans to continue to operate its business while also undergoing Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings.

The company also says it'll be continuing to launch new satellites, building out its ground network and adding new services as it goes through the process, and that its goal is to get through the restructuring "as quickly as possible." The satellite operator cites GM and American Airlines as models that show its goal with the filing, having also undertaken a similar restructuring in the past and emerged with greater fiscal viability.

Intelsat's bankruptcy filing isn't the first noteworthy space company filing resulting from the global pandemic: Would-be global satellite internet provider OneWeb filed for Chapter 11 protection in March.