Satellite veteran Mark Rigolle appointed CEO amid ABS upheaval 

Samantha Parker By Samantha Parker Jun18,2024

TAMPA, Fla. — Satellite industry veteran Mark Rigolle is taking the helm of ABS after Amit Somani’s sudden departure early this year in the latest shake-up for the Dubai-based regional satellite operator, the company announced April 16.

Rigolle, most recently chief operating officer for the proposed Rivada Space Networks low Earth orbit constellation (LEO), will join ABS as CEO April 29.

Incoming ABS CEO Mark Rigolle. Credit: ABS

Somani left in January after less than two years with ABS for personal reasons, the company said, which recently changed its name from Asia Broadcast Satellite to Agility Beyond Space after moving headquarters from Hong Kong.

Somani had joined from Yahsat, a regional satellite operator also based in the United Arab Emirates.

ABS announced its rebranding in October 2023, saying it reflected a push toward building strategic, long-term relationships in the industry after recently coming under new ownership.

The geostationary satellite operator has not announced its new ownership structure and did not respond to requests for comment. 

British private equity firm Permira, which bought a majority stake in ABS in 2010 and first tried to sell the company about six years later, lists the operator as sold on its website but did not provide details about the deal.

In its latest earnings results Jan. 10, when ABS announced Somani’s departure, the company said it recorded increasing revenue from sales to other operators with satellites reaching the end of their design life. 

The company did not detail these arrangements. Total sales came in flat at $69 million for the year to Sept. 30.

ABS chair Parm Sandhu said in the earnings release that the company is in active partnership talks regarding its spectrum rights covering Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia Pacific “to unlock the hidden value in our holdings,” including two orbital slots with permission to beam military Ka-band radio waves.

ABS provides connectivity and broadband services over these regions with five satellites: ABS-2, ABS-2A, ABS-3A, ABS-4/Mobisat-1 and ABS-6.

Founded in 2006, the operator also moved company accounts from Bermuda to the UAE as part of its strategy refresh. 

Going through changes

Somani joined ABS as CEO in October 2022 to replace James Frownfelter, who took over from Jim Simpson in 2018 when he left after just a year in the role.

Rigolle’s career has also seen its fair share of changes. Before Rivada, he served as the chief financial officer for SES and was CEO of its medium Earth constellation O3b Networks. 

He also co-founded regional geostationary satellite operator Kacific and was CEO of LEO startup LeoSat until its collapse following a lack of investment.

“The exceptional breadth of his experience in our industry will enable him to hit the ground running,” Sandhu said in a statement.

“We look forward to benefiting from his leadership and from his insights into multi-orbit constellations during this time of rapid market evolution.” 

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

Samantha Parker

By Samantha Parker

Samantha is a seasoned journalist with a passion for uncovering the truth behind the headlines. With years of experience in investigative reporting, she has covered a wide range of topics including politics, crime, and entertainment. Her in-depth analysis and commitment to factual accuracy make her a respected voice in the field of journalism.

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2 thoughts on “Satellite veteran Mark Rigolle appointed CEO amid ABS upheaval ”
  1. It’s interesting to see the changes happening within ABS and the satellite industry as a whole. Mark Rigolle stepping in as CEO seems like a strategic move for the company. Excited to see where ABS goes under his leadership!

  2. Who will take over Mark Rigolle’s role at the proposed Rivada Space Networks? Any information on the impact of this change on the low Earth orbit constellation project?

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