Culture

Global satellite radio company plans IPO

WorldSpace plans to bring satellite radio to Asia, Africa and other regions typically ignored by existing services.

WorldSpace, an early partner of XM Satellite Radio now focused on bringing satellite radio to Asia and other regions, filed this week for a $100 million IPO.

Washington, D.C.-based WorldSpace plans to trade on the Nasdaq market under the symbol "WINR," according to its registration statement. The date, share price and size of the offering will be set later.

WorldSpace was launched in 1990 by CEO Noah Samara to bring satellite-delivered audio programming to an international audience.

The company was an initial shareholder in fast-growing U.S. satellite service XM Satellite Radio and helped develop much of the initial technology and programming for XM. WorldSpace sold its XM stake in 1999, but it still provides some programming to the company.

Since then, WorldSpace has concentrated on serving markets not addressed by current satellite radio services based in North America, Japan and Korea. The company has two satellites in orbit--dubbed AfricaStar and AsiaStar--positioned to deliver programming to most of Africa, Asia, the Middle East and much of Europe. The company plans to launch additional satellites covering Northern Europe and South America.

Manufacturing partners so far have produced only a few portable receivers compatible with the service, but automotive receivers are in the works. Besides purchasing a receiver, customers must buy a subscription at prices averaging $3 to $5 a month.

The company has already spent $1.2 billion to launch satellites and build its programming infrastructure, according to its registration statement. Proceeds from the IPO will be used mainly to build ground repeater stations that will improve coverage in India, and to acquire subscribers in China.