Sabbagh left E-Space to lead the future UAE satcoms and geospatial champion

TAMPA, Fla. Karim Michel Sabbagh has left megaconstellation startup E-Space to lead Space42, a proposed combination of regional satellite operator Yahsat and geospatial intelligence provider Bayanat worth about $4 billion.

Sabbagh, a former SES CEO who joined Florida-based E-Space last year to oversee Europe and the Middle East strategy, will become managing director for Space42 if the two Emirati companies acquire stakes. regulatory and shareholder approval for their all-part merger.

Karim Michel Sabbagh, former CEO of SES and E-Space managing director for Europe and the Middle East, has been lined up to lead Space42. Credit: PRESENTED BY SES

Yahsat is a subsidiary of Mubadala, the United Arab Emirates state-owned investment company that carved Bayanat out of the UAE Armed Forces and became a commercial company over the past decade.

Bayanat is now majority-owned by UAE-based artificial intelligence and cloud provider G42, of which Mubadala is a part.

Under the plans announced on December 19, Bayanat and Yahsat shareholders will get a 54% and 46% share of Space42, respectively, if the deal closes as planned in the second half of 2024.

Mansoor Al Mansoori, who heads the Department of Health in Abu Dhabi and former chairman of Bayanat, will become chairman of Space42. Bakheet Al Katheeri, CEO of Mubadalas UAE Investments platform, will be vice chairman of the merged group.

This merger will bring together the two leading home-grown companies to create MENA [Middle East and Africa] The regions first AI-powered space technology company, Al Mansoori said in a news release, without elaborating on the role artificial intelligence will play in the combined company.

In May, Yahsat and Bayanat jointly ordered five UAE-focused synthetic aperture radar (SAR) satellites from Finnish Earth observation operator Iceye, with the first launch targeting the first quarter of 2024.

Bayanat said it plans to do geospatial analytics and develop AI algorithms for SAR data, leveraging Yahsats satellite infrastructure backbone.

Yahsat currently provides broadband, video broadcasting, backhaul, and mobile voice and data services to the region with a fleet of five geostationary satellites, with three more connectivity-focused spacecraft in the pipeline.

Space AI

E-Space has said it will also use advances in AI technology to improve connectivity services, although there have been few details about the proposed constellation of hundreds of thousands of satellites since coming out of stealth. mode in February 2022 with $50 million in seed funding.

The venture announced a partnership in March to develop AI technology for data traffic management across Emirati telco e&s’ planned space-based network and ground infrastructure.

After deploying three prototypes in low Earth orbit in 2022, E-Space hopes to begin serial production this year for a constellation it describes as an intelligent network for connecting the Internet of Things (IoT) devices, but did not provide an update on these plans. .

E-Space CEO Greg Wyler founded medium Earth orbit broadband operator O3b Networks, which became a wholly owned subsidiary of SES during Sabbaghs tenure as CEO of the Luxembourg-based satellite operator.

Sabbagh confirmed in a LinkedIn message that he is leaving E-Space to focus on efforts to build Space42.

Bayanat and Yahsat are listed on the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange and plan to hold a shareholder meeting to approve the merger in the first three months of 2024.

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