On Monday, OneWeb—the U.S. satellite venture backed by SoftBank Corp. of Japan—announced plans to merge with Luxembourg-based Intelsat in a share-for-share transaction through which Softbank will also invest $1.7 billion in newlyissued common and preferred stock shares of the combined entity.
SoftBank, the parent company of national U.S. wireless carrier Sprint, recently paid $1 billion for a 40% stake in OneWeb, which aims to deploy a constellation of 640 low-earth orbit (LEO) satellites that would expand broadband connectivity worldwide by the early 2020s. As stated in a press release announcing Monday’s transaction, the proposed combination of Intelsat and OneWeb, combined with the investment by Softbank, is “intended to create a financially stronger company with the flexibility to aggressively pursue new growth opportunities resulting from the explosion in demand for broadband connectivity for people and devices everywhere.” Noting that the deal will “significantly strengthen Intelsat’s capital structure” through the reduction of debt, and citing the complementary advantages of OneWeb’s LEO satellite network and Intelsat’s geosynchronous (GEO) satellite system, Intelsat CEO Stephen Spangler, who will be the CEO of the combined company, predicted that the union of Intelsat and OneWeb “will create an industry leader unique in its ability to provide affordable broadband anywhere in the world.”
Contingent upon receipt of shareholder and regulatory approvals, the parties expect to close the transaction late in the third quarter of 2017. As Greg Wyler, the executive chairman of OneWeb, declared, “we are very excited at the prospect of working with Intelsat,” Softbank CEO Masayoshi Son heralded the merger as “consistent with SoftBank’s strategy of investing in disruptive, foundational technologies that are building the infrastructure for tomorrow.”