Satellite operator Intelsat will file for an initial public offering (IPO) on the New York stock exchange within the next two months, planning to float for $500 million by 30 June. The money will be used "to repay debt and for general corporate purposes", the company says.

Privatised in 2001, Intelsat must float by mid-2004 under US law. Existing shareholders may also be able to sell their holdings at the IPO: the largest is Lockheed Martin, which owns 24%. Indian telecoms operator VSNL, which owns 5.4%, has hinted it may sell some of its holding at the IPO.

The income from the IPO will help Intelsat pay off the debt it will incur from an acquisition due early this year. Intelsat agreed last year to pay $1.1 billion for bankrupt satellite builder Loral's six-strong North American satellite fleet. The purchase is now awaiting approval from the Federal Communications Commission and Intelsat says it "expects to be cleared soon", as "we are still planning to close the Loral deal before the IPO".

Source: Flight International