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Australian satellite communications firm buys assets from troubled NewSat

By Byron Kaye

SYDNEY, July 10 (Reuters) - Australia-listed satellite internet company SpeedCast International Ltd bought land, buildings and equipment from rival NewSat Ltd, handing the embattled vendor a financial lifeline while expanding its local footprint.

The companies did not disclose a price, but the sale will come as a partial relief for NewSat, which went into receivership in April after a backer withdrew support for a $650 million satellite launch.

In a statement on Friday, Hong Kong-based Speedcast, which has provided internet services for U.S. and Australian troops in Afghanistan, said it bought the facilities in the Australian cities of Adelaide and Perth, as well as customer contracts, from NewSat's receivers.

The sale did not include a satellite which NewSat was having built by Lockheed Martin Corp until Europe's COFACE Lender Group withdrew backing, a spokesman for NewSat's receiver, McGrathNicol, told Reuters.

Lockheed Martin has since taken control of the unfinished satellite, which also counted the U.S. Export Import Bank as a major lender, the spokesman added.

SpeedCast Chief Executive Officer Pierre-Jean Beylier said the purchase will help his company "expand our presence in the market, in particular with government and Perth-based customers to which we can sell additional services globally".

The new assets will improve SpeedCast's offerings throughout the Asia-Pacific region and let the company sell new services in the Middle East and Africa, Beylier added.

SpeedCast's Sydney-listed shares rose 1 percent, in line with the broader market, in mid-session trading. Since its August initial public offering, SpeedCast shares have risen 39 percent above their issue price while the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 has fallen 1 percent.

(Editing by Stephen Coates)