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Thuraya takes out US$100 million loan

Satcom provider launches service in Zambia and introduces Africa Talk tariff

Thuraya Satellite Telecommunications Company has signed a US$100 million bridge loan agreement with Emirates Financial Services as part of a debt-refinancing plan. The mobile satellite services company will use the loan to clear its outstanding debt and to allow more convenient terms for debt repayment.

The new debt facility, which was approved by the Thuraya board of directors on December 24, will be useda to pay off the balance of a US$600 million loan Thuraya took to finance its US$1 billion project in 1999, when the mobile satellite services industry was facing a number of challenges following the bankruptcy of satellite communications industry leaders such as Iridium and Globalstar.

Emirates Bank International, National Bank of Dubai and Commercial Bank of Dubai were the lead managers for the transaction, all of which are new relationship banks with Thuraya. The bridge loan is expected to be replaced by a five-year syndicated loan after a six-month period.

"We are pleased with the great cooperation and support we are getting from these top UAE banks, which reflects their confidence in our leading market position and future potential growth," said Thuraya CEO Yousuf Al Sayed.

"Such support will be instrumental for us to continue our pioneering business plans and maintain our market positioning as the most innovative UAE-based mobile satellite operator in the international satellite telecoms industry," he added.

The satellite provider also last month signed a service provision agreement with SatCom, to promote and distribute its satellite services in Zambia.

The agreement is a continuation of Thuraya's strategic focus on providing satellite services in African markets, and will see SatCom, a UK-based supplier, distribute the entire range of Thuraya products and services across Zambia. The agreement will also see Thuraya's Africa Talk tariff plan made available to Zambians.

These developments come on the back of strong sales of Thuraya's newest second generation satellite terminal Thuraya SO-2510, with 28,000 units of the lightweight handset sold during the last four months.

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