Satellite company Eutelsat, which last week rejected a takeover bid by telecoms entrepreneur Patrick Drahi, raised its holding in UK-based OneWeb to more than 20 per cent, making it the company’s second largest shareholder.
Eutelsat said in a statement it had paid $165 million to up its shareholding from 17.6 per cent to 22.9 per cent, exercising a call option on a portion of the latest funding round which was agreed when it made its initial investment of $550 million in April earlier this year.
The completion of the latest investment is expected to finalise at the end of 2021, subject to regulatory conditions.
Eutelsat talked up OneWeb’s progress since its initial investment, highlighting it had a 100 per cent launch success rate leading to nearly half of its constellations in orbit, while commercially it had struck numerous distribution partnerships ahead of launch, which remained on track for end-2021.
OneWeb was pulled out of chapter 11 bankruptcy by a UK government led consortium, which also included Bharti Airtel, in 2020 through a $1 billion rescue package. In total, it is now closing in on $3 billion in funding, as it pushes ahead with ambitions to tap into the commercial space market.
Bharti Airtel is the company’s largest shareholder with a 30 per cent holding, while Eutelsat said its latest move strengthened its position.
Rodolphe Belmer, Eutelsat CEO, added a recent vote of confidence from both investors and future customers made it “convinced of OneWeb’s right-to-win in the low earth orbit constellation segment.”
Eutelsat turned down an approach at €12.10 per share from Altice Europe founder Patrick Drahi last week, stating it had decided not to engage in takeover discussions.