Bharti Global Bets On Internet Satellites To Take On Musk And Bezos’ Plans

Photo by Gilles Rolland-Monnet on Unsplash

You heard that right. A few weeks back, we saw Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk unraveling their satellite launch plans to expand into the internet-provider space.

The fever is catching up with Indian billionaires too. French satellite operator Eutelsat and Bharti-backed OneWeb have inked a pact for a merger, entailing an all-share transaction. The investment will be plowed into OneWeb’s low-Earth orbit satellite network. 

For the record, OneWeb is backed by Bharti Global, which has pumped in an additional $500 Million into the satellite constellation. The ultimate goal remains to provide global broadband internet services to people everywhere by the end of 2023.

This investment would make Bharti the single largest shareholder in OneWeb. Key shareholders of OneWeb include the UK government, SoftBank, Eutelsat, and a host of other investors. 

On completion of the transaction, Bharti’s overall investment would rise to $1 billion while holding 38.6% of the company.

After this deal, Eutelsat will suspend its dividend for 2 years.

Space Plans

Eutelsat will combine its 36-fleet of Geostationary Orbit (GEO) satellites with OneWeb’s constellation of 648 Low Earth Orbit satellites, of which 428 are currently in orbit.

Earlier this year, OneWeb also signed a pact with ISRO for launching satellites.

Who, who?

Sunil Bharti Mittal shall be the Co-chair (VP), and Dominique D’Hinnin would be proposed as Chairman of the combined entity. Eva Berneke would continue as CEO.

Shravin Bharti Mittal will be the second Bharti Director.

OneWeb, the London-based satellite company, was rescued from bankruptcy in 2020 in part by the British government. It merged with Paris-headquartered Eutelsat, which already held a 23% share in OneWeb.

Impetus 

At a time when the Indian space policy is on the anvil, the new venture would further the momentum towards the recently-signed space coordination agreement between India and France.

Too long? Here’s a one-liner: Bharti Global-backed OneWeb has entered into an agreement with French company Eutelsat to take a leap forward in satellite connectivity; the $500 Million transaction would make Bharti the single largest shareholder in OneWeb.

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