Lockheed Martin Corp. said it would create a subsidiary to tap the rapidly growing market for satellite-based telecommunications services.
The Bethesda, Md., aerospace giant also said it is forming a jointly owned venture with General Electric Co.'s finance unit to launch a satellite system that will offer television and Internet services throughout Asia.
The two moves are part of a strategy aimed at snagging a portion of the exploding market for satellite launch and information distribution services. The services have developed in response to the sharp increase in the use of wireless technology and the Internet.
Lockheed Martin plans to consolidate several small existing businesses into a new Global Telecommunications unit. The company will start with a little more than $100 million in annual revenue, but executives say they have aggressive plans for the business.
Included in the new unit will be Lockheed Martin Intersputnik, Astrolink, Lockheed Martin Telecommunications and other commercial communications businesses that are part of other units within the $28-billion defense company. Lockheed's satellite manufacturing and launch services will continue to be part of the company's space and strategic missiles sector.
"We're going to grow this exponentially," said John Sponyoe, an executive in one of Lockheed's electronics businesses who will head the business. "We'll be in the billions in the not too distant future."
Analysts predicted that Lockheed will move quickly to expand the Global Telecommunications business through joint ventures, alliances and acquisitions.
The deal with GE's Americom unit calls for the launch of a new geostationary satellite by next summer. The spacecraft will offer direct-to-home TV service and broad-band Internet access to customers in Asia. The main coverage area for the satellite will be India and northeast Asia.