SES Global S.A.

Leaving Luxembourg City and cycling a dozen miles east brings me to Betzdorf, a picturesque farming village tucked away in a narrow valley that contains more cows than people. The address I have for the headquarters of SES Global, one of the world's largest satellite operators, is simply: Chateau de Betzdorf. Following a winding country road past fields of ripening corn and various other crops I'm brought to a stop on a side of the road by something unusual up on a hill. At first glance it looks like a forest of gigantic mushrooms but then I figure out what they are: giant satellite dishes (click for photo). Hmm, I must be getting close to SES.

A steep road leads up toward the satellite dishes and I'm soon stopped at a glassed-in security booth where I have to first pass muster with the guard (click for photo). Then it's onward to the reception area of the elegant three-story chateau. Built in the 1920's this listed (protected) chateau was evidently used as a residence or getaway for the Grand Duke of Luxembourg and his family. I say this because the white marbled reception area contains framed family pictures of the former Grand Duke. I count seven plants (real) scattered about the room along with eight red leather chairs.

It's a fun visit thanks to the hospitable welcome and extensive tour of the place given to me by Jean-Paul Hoffmann, VP-Corporate Communications. SES has been here since 1989 and about 40 people work in the head office though quite a few more work onsite for subsidiaries. Employee parking is free and plentiful, those who bicycle to work enjoy covered parking, meetings rooms are named after planets and smoking isn't allowed in the workplace. A separate nearby modern building houses the good-looking company cafeteria which overlooks a sizeable fishpond. Adjacent to the cafeteria there's an indoor multipurpose room that can be configured for a full-size basketball court, tennis court or meeting hall. A state-of-the-art fitness center with showers adjoins the multipurpose room. There's no corporate aircraft and no formal dress code--- though appropriate business attire is required and Casual Fridays are observed. It's 15 minutes by car to Luxembourg City airport, 10 minutes to the nearest freeway and 30 minutes to downtown Luxembourg City.

CEO Romain Bausch occupies a corner office on the first floor. I count three plants (real), three rockets (toy models), two satellites (scale models), one computer, no family pictures and a stand-up desk. What's the view out his window? The well-manicured grounds. The table in the first floor boardroom seats 30.

Revenues in 2004 totaled $1.5 billion with 985 employees. The Luxembourg government, together with two state-owned banks owns a one-third stake in SES. That explains how SES was able to lease the government-owned chateau. Company website: