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Former Satellite Executive Mark Rigolle Named CEO Of ABS 

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Boeing engineers work on ABS-3A, the world’s first all-electric commercial telecommunications spacecraft that launched in 2015. Credit: Boeing

(CTN News) – The Dubai-based regional satellite operator announced April 16 that satellite industry veteran Mark Rigolle will take over ABS after Amit Somani abruptly departed early this year.

Rigolle most recently served as chief operating officer for the proposed Rivada Space Networks constellation (LEO). In January, Somani left the company, which recently changed its name from Asia Broadcast Satellite to Agility Beyond Space after moving its headquarters from Hong Kong, for personal reasons.

As part of Somani’s transition, he had recently joined Yahsat, an UAE-based regional satellite operator.

After recent ownership changes, ABS announced its rebranding in October 2023, expressing a desire to build strategic, long-term relationships within the industry.

No new ownership structure has been announced by the geostationary satellite operator, and it did not respond to requests for comment. On its website, Permira, which acquired a majority stake in ABS in 2010 and first tried to sell the company about six years later, lists ABS as sold but does not provide details about the sale.

When ABS announced Somani’s departure, it reported increased revenue from sales to other operators with satellites nearing the end of their useful lives in its latest earnings report. It was not disclosed what these arrangements were. The company’s sales for the year ended Sept. 30 remained flat at $69 million.

The chairman of ABS, Parm Sandhu, said in the company’s earnings release that it is actively seeking partnerships for its spectrum rights covering Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and Asia Pacific, including two orbital slots with permission to beam military radio waves to Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and Asia Pacific.

There are five satellites used by ABS to provide connectivity and broadband services in these regions: ABS-2, ABS-2A, ABS-3A, ABS-4/Mobisat-1, and ABS-6.

The operator, which was founded in 2005, also moved its company accounts from Bermuda to the UAE as part of its strategy refresh.

Changes are taking place

He replaced James Frownfelter as CEO of ABS in October 2022, who took over from Jim Simpson in 2008 but left after just a year. A lot has changed in Rigolle’s career as well. A former chief financial officer of SES and CEO of O3b Networks, Rivada served as SES’s chief financial officer before joining Rivada.

Also, he cofounded regional geostationary satellite operator Kacific and ran LEO startup LeoSat for a time before it collapsed due to lack of funding. As a result of his industry experience, Sandhu will be able to hit the ground running right away.

It will be a great benefit to us to have his insight into multi-orbit constellations during this time of rapid market evolution.”

As geostationary players are facing mounting competition from SpaceX’s sprawling LEO network, Rigolle noted he was joining ABS “at this pivotal time for the company and for the whole [fixed satellite services] industry.”


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Salman Ahmad is a seasoned writer for CTN News, bringing a wealth of experience and expertise to the platform. With a knack for concise yet impactful storytelling, he crafts articles that captivate readers and provide valuable insights. Ahmad's writing style strikes a balance between casual and professional, making complex topics accessible without compromising depth.

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