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Satellite operator SES swallows rival O3b

European satellite operator SES announced Monday it was disbursing $730 million (655 million euros) to acquire the remaining half of O3b, a rival with satellites in lower orbits that offers fast connections.

“The acquisition of O3b — the fastest growing satellite network — significantly enhances SES’s long-term growth profile,” the company’s chief financial officer, Padraig McCarthy, said in a statement.

One of the leading satellite communications operators, SES dates from the 1980s and operates a fleet of over 50 satellites stationed in fixed orbits high above the earth.

O3b, however, was launched less than a decade ago.

The company uses lower orbits to provide communications with shorter delays in transmission, making it possible to transmit larger volumes of data at a lower cost — a key demand among mobile and Internet providers in developing nations.

“Looking forward, both SES and O3b will benefit from the strong synergies and strategic fit across both businesses,” added McCarthy.

Luxembourg-based SES said it will move to consolidate and refinance the $1.2 billion debt of O3b, which it said carried an average 9.5-percent interest rate, more than double the rate paid by SES.

SES said it expected to generate 53 million euros of annual commercial, operational, product development and financial synergies in 2017, increasing to 106 million euros annually by 2021.