Eutelsat, OneWeb to merge; Bharti to be single largest shareholder

Eutelsat will combine its strong fleet of 36 Geostationary Orbit (GEO) satellites with OneWeb’s constellation of 648 Low Earth Orbit satellites, of which 428 are currently in orbit.
Representative Image
Representative Image Reuters

NEW DELHI: French satellite operator Eutelsat and key shareholders of Bharti-backed OneWeb have inked a pact for merger, entailing all-share transaction, a statement said on Tuesday.

Post deal closure, Bharti Group will be the single largest shareholder of Eutelsat. The transaction values OneWeb at $3.4 billion (over Rs 27,000 crore), according to a joint statement. Eutelsat will combine its strong fleet of 36 Geostationary Orbit (GEO) satellites with OneWeb’s constellation of 648 Low Earth Orbit satellites, of which 428 are currently in orbit.

The announcement has a takeaway for the India market as well, where OneWeb had received the letter of intent for the GMPCS (Global Mobile Personal Communication by Satellite) licence from the Department of Telecom.

Earlier this year, OneWeb also inked a pact with the Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO) commercial arm for launching satellites. “With its uniquely superior GEO/LEO offerings, complementing high throughput with low latency, the combined entity will help bolster the satellite communication capabilities of the nation, catering to the varied range of needs of the private industry as well as the government,” the statement said.

Coming at a crucial time when the Indian space policy is on the anvil, the new entity would provide further impetus to the recently-signed agreement on space coordination between India and France. “As the largest shareholder in the combined entity, Bharti will continue its full interest in OneWeb, via Eutelsat. Sunil Bharti Mittal shall be the Co-chair of the combined listed entity and Shravin Bharti Mittal as the second Bharti Director,” the statement said.

It however did not offer details of the specific holding of Bharti Group post deal-closing.

OneWeb India will also become a subsidiary of the Eutelsat JV post FDI clearances, “and with its unique capabilities of covering all unconnected white spaces, is confident of furthering the objective of a digitally connected India”.

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