The one-billion-dollar takeover in partnership with India’s Bharti Global breaks with the United Kingdom’s traditional hostility to state involvement in private markets. The shift is due to Boris Johnson’s government demands for being more flexible on state aid for companies in its talks with the European Union.
In 2012, OneWeb built a constellation of small satellites beaming internet connections to isolated places from low-earth orbit. Before collapsing due to investors withdrew their money, the company raised $3.4 billion from Softbank Group Corp, Airbus SE, and many big companies.
Due to the demand for remote broadband services and expansion in the growth of inflight WI-FI, Elon Musk is busy deploying his own satellite internet system, Starlink, and Amazon.com Inc’s Jeff Bezos has similar plans.
Stuart Martin, chief executive officer of Satellite Applications Catapult, a technology company that advised the minister said, “It’s brave, and not without risk, but it’s a good deal and will help position the U.K. as a global leader in communications for the 21st century.”
The OneWeb will have three members from each co-owner. Bharti’s side is set to be represented by Mittal, his son Shravin Mittal, and Bharti vice-chairman Akhil Gupta. On the UK side, former banker Tom Cooper is expected to represent the UK’s investment body, UK Government Investments, alongside other directors still under consideration.