The head of the world's largest satellite operator has outlined ambitious expansion plans.

The chief executive of Luxembourg-based SES Global, Roman Bausch, says the company's healthier-than-most net debt of €1.7bn ($21bn, £1.1bn) will provide it with the means to scoop up assets and return cash to investors "but not at the expense of any growth opportunities".

Mr Bausch's remarks come after the company, which owns 29 satellites through its Astra and Americom networks and is planning to launch five more this year, announced on Monday a 41 percent increase in first-half net profits. And while a flat year-end was predicted, its forecasts for revenues and profits in 2005 and beyond were optimistic.

The take-up of digital TV in Europe, following the US trend, leaves Mr Bausch upbeat about growing demand for satellite capacity from broadcasters such as BSkyB in the UK.

Data sourced from: New York Times; additional content by WARC staff