Satellite of love: Space broadband outfit Viasat acquires rival Inmarsat

Promises to keep Inmarsat's commitments to build more stuff in Blighty


Satellite broadband providers Inmarsat and Viasat will combine forces.

Viasat is the acquiror and will send Inmarsat's stockholders $850 million of cash and $3.1 billion in scrip. Viasat will also take on $3.4 billion of Inmarsat's debt.

The combined company will operate 19 satellites, with another ten under construction and headed for space between now and 2024.

Inmarsat is a UK-based company and was taken private in 2019 by investors who promised the company's roots would remain firmly planted in Britannia and outlined a raft of investments. Viasat has promised to honour those plans, and to grow facilities in Australia and Canada and across Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and Asia Pacific.

The joint statement about the deal states "both companies are nearing the end of unusually intensive capital investment cycles within the next 24 to 36 months and expect significant subsequent benefits from converging their respective architectures into a joint, high-performance global network." The two companies also reckon that "capital, operating and cross-selling revenue synergies" plus leaner combined ops, will "drive value creation of $1.5 billion".

Left unmentioned is that Viasat and Inmarsat have had the satellite broadband market largely to themselves for years, but now face aggressive new competitors in the form of Elon Musk's Starlink and Amazon.com's planned constellation of 7,774 satellites. Other players – among them UK-based BT – collectively plan to send thousands more broadband-beaming birds into orbit in coming years.

Viasat and Inmarsat seem to think their combined resources have sufficient opportunity to thrive despite burgeoning competition, citing "new IoT applications and greater utilization of global space assets" as driving demand. ®

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