OneWeb-Eutelsat merger to be listed on London stock market this year
Image credit: PA
Broadband satellite firm OneWeb is planning to merge with Eutelsat for a joint listing on the London Stock Exchange (LSE) later this year in a move that could bolster Britain’s status as a hotspot for tech listings, The Times has reported.
OneWeb runs a constellation of satellites which is designed to enable access to broadband speed internet connectivity anywhere on the planet.
The UK government bought a stake in OneWeb in 2020 after the latter entered bankruptcy after failing to raise the requisite capital to complete the build and deployment of the remaining 90 per cent of the network.
French satellite operator Eutelsat already owns around 23 per cent of OneWeb and proposed a potential merger of the two firms last year when OneWeb was valued at around $3.4bn.
According to The Times, Sunil Bharti Mittal, the executive chairman of OneWeb, said that a secondary listing on the LSE was a commitment negotiated by ministers in a bid to boost the domestic space and tech sector.
“The benefit is that you have a varied investor base to address to, but this is more a requirement of the UK while we were negotiating with Eutelsat to have a listing here because in the end every state wants to have more and more listings in their own country,” he said.
OneWeb commenced launches of its satellite constellation – a network of more than 650 LEO satellites designed for internet services – in February 2019.
The purchase by the British government was seen as a means to expand the UK’s space industry, following its withdrawal from the EU and its Galileo project. The OneWeb service is expected to be fully deployed this year.
The deal with Eutelsat will be subject to regulatory clearance and is not expected to be completed before the summer at the earliest.
There are concerns that London could lose its appeal as a place for tech firms to pursue stock market listings. For example, Arm, which designs mobile chips, announced earlier this month that it would exclusively list on the New York stock exchange.
OneWeb recently abandoned efforts to retrieve satellites worth $50m that were located in Russia around the start of the Ukrainian invasion.
The satellites are currently held in their Soyuz launch site at the Russia-owned Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, although OneWeb has already received an insurance payout for their loss.
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