SoftBank in talks to merge satellite groups OneWeb and Intelsat


The Japanese technology investor SoftBank is hatching plans for a multi-billion dollar merger of two major satellite companies - OneWeb and Intelsat - in a deal that would create a global powerhouse in the fast-changing arena of space technology. The talks are still in progress and could still fall apart, and OneWeb has other options beside Intelsat, the person said.

"With SoftBank's support we will build the world's first truly global broadband company, accelerating our mission of bridging the digital divide by connecting the four billion people without access today", said OneWeb founder Greg Wyler, who will be executive chairman of the new company.

According to Reuters, the merger will allow Intelsat to address its roughly $15 billion debt pile.

- OneWeb, a USA satellite venture backed by Japan's SoftBank, and Intelsat said on Feb.28 they had agreed to merge in an all-share deal.

Pluses for Intelsat with such an acquisition would include expansion of their customer base into areas now not addressed by their services as well as network cost savings-they also have radio-frequency licenses that would be highly valued in providing Internet to airlines, such as Gogo, Inc., which is now working with both firms on such services. OneWeb's largest engineering center is based in Northern Virginia, and a new manufacturing facility in Exploration Park, Fla., promises to hire close to 3,000 people as part of an earlier investment from SoftBank.

"The entry of SoftBank was a very important step for us", OneWeb CEO Eric Béranger recently told Capacity in an interview.

An artist's conception shows a OneWeb satellite in orbit.

The focus will be on remote and unconnected areas, said Béranger. But OneWeb will also be able to provide connections to ships and aircraft.

OneWeb, which was founded with the intention to give internet access to rural areas and developing countries worldwide is valued at $2.5bn.

Artistic rendition of the OneWeb constellation.

Last month, Intelsat's new Epic satellite, the Intelsat 33e, completed in-orbit testing and went live.

The sources as cited by Sky news added that the deal would also include a capital injection from SoftBank.

The Board of Directors of the combined company will be made up of seven directors, including three independent directors, three members selected by SoftBank and one director selected by a current Intelsat shareholder.

The combined company will be led by Intelsat Chief Executive Stephen Spengler and will be domiciled in Luxembourg.