OneWeb raises more cash for LEO satellites

Business news |
By Nick Flaherty

OneWeb has raised an extra $500m that it says makes it fully funded.

Bharti Global exercised an option to buy more shares for an additional $500m on the anniversary of the rescue of the LEO statelite startup from bankruptcy by Bharti and the UK government.

The additional funding, due to complete later this year, will change the ownership of the company with Bharti holding 38.6 percent, leaving the UK government, Eutelsat, and Softbank each ownig 19.3 percent.

OneWeb is preparing for its eighth launch of 36 satellites via a Russian Soyuz launcher operated by ArianSpace tomorrow (1st July, above), delivering coverage to the Arctic region down to 50 degrees latitude. This will bring OneWeb’s fleet to 254 satellites in a Low Earth Orbit of 450km.

The final shareholding structure may alter if an existing shareholder chooses to exercise a part of the  option to buy more shares, says the company.

“The Government’s equity stake in OneWeb not only allows the UK to deploy low Earth orbit technology, but will put our country at the forefront of the small satellite market which is set to rapidly expand over the years ahead,” said Rt. Hon Kwasi Kwarteng, MP, Secretary of State for Business in the UK. “Now that OneWeb has met its original funding objective, I truly believe the company is fast becoming an asset to the British taxpayer, and I look forward to seeing their ambition realised to provide global broadband connectivity next year.”

“OneWeb represents a unique opportunity for investors at a key moment in the commercialisation of space,” said Sunil Bharti Mittal, Executive Chairman of OneWeb. “With its Global ITU LEO Spectrum priority, Telco partnerships, successful launch momentum, and reliable satellites, OneWeb is ready to serve the vital needs of high-speed broadband connectivity for those who have been left behind. Nation states can accelerate their universal service obligations, Telcos, their backhaul, and Enterprise/Governments can serve remote installations.”

“The completion of our funding puts OneWeb in a powerful position. We have significantly lower entry cost of any LEO. We benefit from $3.4bn of pre-Chapter 11 investment by the original shareholders, making new OneWeb a three-times lower cost Constellation. With the forthcoming launch we will have completed 40% of our Network. We are intently focused on execution and just ten more launches will enable us to deliver global coverage,” said Neil Masterson, CEO of OneWeb.

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