France’s Alcatel Espace says it expects to finalise negotiations in the next few weeks with potential partners in the Paksat satellite project. The company originally bid for the project with two local companies, Saigols and Grand Asian Telecom Enterprises (Gates) Pakistan, in 1994. Alcatel and its partners will form a company that will be responsible for financing, building, launching and operating two satellites. The company will also market the space on the satellites.

The final negotiations between Alcatel and partners come after the cabinet approved the appointment of the French company to implement the project. A statement issued after the cabinet meeting, however, said Alcatel must provide written assurance that ‘no commission or any other extra payment has been made to anyone in this regard.’

Alcatel says the satellites will be able to transmit to Pakistan, India, the Middle East and Africa. The company expects to finalise a schedule for the project within a month. Launch of the satellites is expected to take place before the end of 1999.