The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved a proposed Viasat deal to acquire rival Inmarsat, leaving only the European Commission (EC) regulatory process for the $7.3 billion tie-up outstanding.

Approval by the US regulator adds to clearance from the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority, which ruled earlier this month the proposed deal raises no competition concerns.

Viasat announced the deal in November 2021, in a move it said would create a fleet of 19 operating satellites and an additional ten due to launch in the next three years.

Following the FCC approval, the companies stated they expect the deal to close later this month, implying EC approval is expected imminently.

The EC’s approval appears to be taking longer after it launched an in-depth investigation into the deal in February, citing concerns about reduced competition.

There were also question marks over whether FCC approval would be an easy process after rival SpaceX had lobbied the regulator to reject the deal, arguing Viasat had violated Commission rules by breaching licence terms.

As approval edges closer, Inmarsat last week struck a deal with a Swiss aerospace company, which has been tasked with developing its eighth-generation spacecraft due to launch in 2026, designed to provide safety and support services.