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The move will create one of the world’s largest space-based broadband providers, aiming to compete with Elon Musk’s rapidly growing Starlink constellation

Today, Viasat has announced that acquisition of Inmarsat for $7.3 billion, giving its global broadband and narrowband networks a major boost both in terms of the number of satellites as well as available spectrum.

The deal comprises around $850 million in cash, $3.1 billion in equity to Viasat, and the assumption of around $3.4 billion in debt.

The move will see the two companies combine their terrestrial and satellite assets, aiming to create a more holistic service offering that can deliver higher speeds and more bandwidth to customers, especially targeting high demand locations like airports and shipping hubs. 

After the deal closes, Viasat will operate 19 satellites across the Ka, L, and S-bands, with 10 additional spacecraft set for deployment in the next three years. The company will be able to boast global Ka-band coverage, including polar regions, following the launches of these new highly elliptical orbit communications satellites.

“The unique fusion of teams, technologies and resources provides the ingredients and scale needed for profitable growth through the creation and delivery of innovative broadband and IoT services in new and existing fast-growing segments and geographies,” said Viasat executive chair Mark Dankberg. “Inmarsat’s dual-band global mobile network, unique L-band resources, skills and capabilities in the U.K. and excellent technical and operational talent worldwide, are powerful complements to Viasat’s business.”

Rumours that Inmarsat’s private equity owners were considering exiting from their investment the UK-based satellite company first arrived last week, with reports suggesting that Apax Partners and Warburg Pincus had already entered into discussions after being approached by potential buyers. 

Inmarsat itself only went private back in 2019, at which point a private equity-led consortium agreed to buy the business for $3.4 billion.

Subject to regulatory approval, the acquisition is set to be finalised in mid-2022.

With the global satellite broadband industry heating up over the past year, especially with the meteoric rise of SpaceX’s Starlink, consolidation across the sector is somewhat expected. Couple this with the recent large investments in OneWeb and the highly anticipated launch of Amazon’s Project Kuiper, and it is clear to see that the modern telecoms space race is already underway. 

 

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Also in the news: 
$1.2tn infrastructure bill will see $65bn US broadband boost
BT looks to civil engineering robotics to speed up fibre rollout
FCC concludes Boeing’s satellite broadband ambitions are in the public interest

 

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