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UPDATE 1-Eutelsat's Konnect satellite lifts H1, shares jump

(Adds CEO quote, detail)

Feb 12 (Reuters) - Eutelsat beat half-year profit expectations helped by new contracts and the entry in service of its Konnect satellite, sending shares in the French company up almost 7% on Friday.

One of the world’s leading commercial satellite operators, it reported sales of 613.1 million euros in its five core businesses for the six months ended Dec. 31, down 3.6% but beating analysts’ forecasts.

Eutelsat has signed long-term contracts with Orange in France and TIM in Italy for capacity on Konnect, which entered service in mid-November and should reach full capacity in the coming weeks.

Eutelsat slightly raised the bottom of its expected full-year revenue range though it announced the delay of three satellite launches.

Eutelsat now expects revenue of 1.19-1.22 billion euros ($1.44-$1.48 billion) for the full-year ending June 30, up from 1.18-1.22 billion previously.

Eutelsat and rivals SES and Intelsat have faced cancelled sports events, reduced air and cruise traffic as well as supply chain disruptions which have postponed new launches.

Eutelsat said it was delaying the launch of the Quantum satellite to the second quarter of 2021 from the first, the Hotbird 13G to the first half of 2022 from the second half of this year, and said the Konnect VHTS (Very High Throughput Satellite) was now expected to launch in the first half of 2022.

“These are our best estimations as of today, and we think they are credible as we don’t expect new disruptions from COVID-19 on the industrial chain in our sector,” CEO Rodolphe Belmer told journalists on a call.

He said the delays had not impacted its current contracts.

Belmer forecast less favourable revenue in Eutelsat’s core broadcast segment in the second half of the group’s financial year reflecting fewer new channels launches due to COVID-19.

$1 = 0.8259 euros Reporting by Anait Miridzhanian and Sarah Morland; editing by Shri Navaratnam and Jason Neely

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