Plans by GHL Acquisition Corp. to merge with mobile satellite services (MSS) firm Iridium Holdings LLC were approved last Friday by the FCC, which concluded that the deal, which values Iridium at $591 million, serves the public interest. Announced last September, the transaction would give GHL, a vehicle of New York-based investment firm Greenhill & Co., a 55% stake in the publicly-traded, post-merger entity to be known as Iridium Communications, Inc. Through its global fleet of 66 low-earth orbit satellites, Iridium offers mobile voice and data services to U.S. government and private sector customers based in the oil drilling, shipping, forestry and other industries. The merger would provide Iridium with a $500 million capital infusion to help finance deployment of Iridium’s $2.7 billion next-generation satellite constellation, dubbed “Iridium NEXT,” which is slated to replace the company’s current MSS system starting in 2014. The FCC consented to the transaction over the objections of Globalstar, Iridium’s principal competitor, which argued, among other things, that the proposed $500 million investment would not guarantee the continuation of Iridium’s services in the long term. Shareholder and SEC approvals are still required before the parties may consummate the transaction, and GHL shareholders are scheduled to vote on the merger on September 23. Declaring that FCC approval “moves Iridium one step closer to . . . strengthening our business for the future,” Iridium CEO Matt Desch applauded the agency’s action, stating that it is “good news for us, our partners, and our customers, and helps us advance our plans to build our next generation satellite constellation.”