Europe approves Viasat takeover of Inmarsat

Europe approves Viasat takeover of Inmarsat

Business news |
By Nick Flaherty

The European Commission has approved unconditionally the acquisition by Viasat of UK-based satellite operator Inmarsat.

The decision follows an in-depth investigation of the proposed acquisition of Inmarsat by Viasat as both companies are providers of satellite broadband, particularly to aircraft.

Viasat owns and operates four geostationary earth orbit GEO satellites and Inmarsat owns and operates fifteen GEO satellites built by European electronics companies. They both use capacity from their satellites to provide services in the nascent market for the supply of broadband in-flight connectivity services to commercial airlines in the EEA and globally.

Both also provide satellite capacity to third party satellite service providers worldwide across a range of other industry segments, including in the maritime, energy, government, and business aviation sectors, where overlaps are limited.

The provision of broadband satellite services is a key area for European sovereignty under its Space Strategy.

It believes a number of sizable competitors such as SES would likely exert sufficient competitive pressure on the merged company. As the in-flight business is still small, and there is expected to be significant excess broadband satellite capacity upstream, there is significant opportunities for both current competitors and potential new entrants.

“In-flight internet connectivity on commercial flights is set to become more and more common in Europe. Our in-depth investigation has shown that Viasat’s plan to buy rival satellite operator Inmarsat will not have a negative impact on the competitive landscape for this service. Our extensive market investigation confirmed that sufficient choice among several credible providers will remain available for airlines to offer their passengers,” said Margrethe Vestager, EC Executive Vice-President in charge of competition policy.

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