A consortium led by the UK government and a division of Indian conglomerate Bharti Enterprises won a move to acquire satellite communications provider OneWeb, committing $1 billion to relaunching operations halted by a bankruptcy move.
In a statement, the government said a move with Bharti Global had been accepted, which will result in it taking “a significant equity share in OneWeb” once US courts and regulatory clearances are received, which are expected by the year-end.
The government is set to provide half of the $1 billion investment, with Bharti Global the remainder.
UK Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Alok Sharma said the move had the potential “to connect millions of people worldwide to broadband, many for the first time”, while highlighting the “scale of Britain’s ambitions” to be a key player in space-based communications systems.
The government emphasised the investment would deliver the “first UK sovereign space capability” and place the country “at the cutting-edge of the latest advances” in related technology.
Bharti Global’s involvement is key, the government said, with the company to deliver “commercial and operational leadership” along with a “revenue base” to OneWeb.
The funding will enable OneWeb to continue work to deploy its constellation of Low Earth Orbit satellites: when it sought safe harbour in March it had launched 74 of the 650 birds planned.
Adrian Steckel, CEO of OneWeb, said the acquisition would bring “immediate value” and the company was eager to “get back to launching our satellites as soon as possible”.Subscribe to our daily newsletter Back