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Dubai’s Thuraya Seeks Partners for Satellite Expansion in U.S.

Thuraya Telecommunications Co., the Dubai-based provider of mobile-satellite services in Europe, Australia and Asia, is looking to expand to the U.S., Chief Executive Officer Samer Halawi said.

Thuraya is talking with financial backers and may consider buying spectrum or satellites to start a service in the U.S., he said. The company may also seek agreements to attach its equipment to satellites owned by providers that already have U.S. coverage, Halawi said in an interview. Shareholders of Thuraya, a private joint-stock company, include Boeing Co., Third Point LLC and Jefferies Group LLC.

A U.S. expansion would help Thuraya increase its customer base, boosting profit margins, Halawi said. The company, which serves clients in the government, oil and gas and other industries, booked $122 million in sales last year, and expects to reach $200 million in revenue by 2018, he said. It should become profitable within two years, he said.

“We are looking for partnerships to look at ways to cover the U.S., and hopefully do this soon,” Halawi said. “We are looking for satellite operators that have capacity that we could use, and for financial partners to allow us to do that.” He declined to name companies with which Thuraya has held talks.

Since Halawi became CEO in 2011 to turn the ailing company around, Thuraya has returned to revenue growth. A part of its growth strategy is to expand into the consumer market. It already sells a smartphone jacket that lets iPhones and some Samsung Galaxy models make satellite calls. Thuraya sells the sleeves in stores of mobile carriers like SoftBank Corp. in Japan and through retailers like Virgin Megastores, Halawi said.

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