Eutelsat held talks to buy Aramiska

Approach rejected before firm pulled plug

Eutelsat was in talks to acquire troubled Aramiska shortly before the satellite broadband operator pulled the plug on its service last month. Insiders have told The Register that giant satellite operator Eutelsat had been holding talks with Aramiska since before Christmas, but that those negotiations broke down.

One source told us that execs at Aramiska rejected this approach because Eutelsat failed to put enough cash on the table. Another said talks broke down the day before Aramiska made its shock announcement to pull the plug on the service.

A spokeswoman for Eutelsat refused to comment on the takeover talks and, when asked if Aramiska owed it any cash, said the "capacity used by Aramiska on one of our satellites is leased from Eutelsat by Belgacom".

So, did Aramiska owe Belgacom any dosh? A spokesman for the Belgian telco confirmed that Aramiska was a customer and also owed some cash, but declined to say how much.

He added that Belgacom had "good contacts with Aramiska" and the telco "regrets the situation".

Exactly what that "situation" is still remains unclear as former employees and customers hunt for more information as to what went wrong. Last week El Reg reported that the first staff knew of Aramiska's demise was when they were called to a meeting on the day Aramiska axed its service.

Indeed, no one from Aramiska has been available for comment since the firm told customers it would no longer be providing a broadband service and as a result, rumours about the firm have been spreading fast. No one from US-based VC outfit, Whitney & Co, which ploughed money into the business, has returned calls seeking comment.

However, TelcomWeb tracked down former Aramiska boss Philippe Bodart, who said in 2004 around three quarters of the firm's business was in the UK, but increased availability of broadband and lower costs put the squeeze on the satelitte internet service.

He told TelecomWeb: "I think the first signs that things were not great in the UK were when BT announced the availability of DSL/broadband around the country at a price of $35.60 to $53.40 (£20 - £30). That is when we got hit very heavily in the UK market. From an economic perspective, this is when things started to go sour for the company." ®

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