The Strategist

Softbank prepares Intelsat - OneWeb merger

02/28/2017 - 13:21

Japanese telecommunications company Softbank Group is organizing a merger of British satellite startup OneWeb, financially supported by Intelsat, one of the world's largest satellite companies. The deal must be approved by Intelsat’s shareholders. Size of the debt of the latter is $ 15 billion, so the company hopes that this merger will somehow help improve its financial position. Softbank's participation in the transaction is also associated with an infusion of $ 1.7 billion in cash, part of which will go to buy Intelsat’s bonds. Total price of the merger is estimated at $ 18 billion, provided that Intelsat’s bondholders agree to the proposed price.

MIKI Yoshihito via flickr
MIKI Yoshihito via flickr
In December last year, OneWeb attracted $ 1.2 billion from Softbank and other investors. The money will go to development of small satellites and construction of a plant in Florida. Intelsat owns satellite-terrestrial communications network to provide video services and broadband Internet anywhere in the world. As Wells Fargo’s analyst Andrew Spinola put it, Intelsat - OneWeb merger will combine their spectrum of radio frequencies, and will improve quality of provided Internet connection. The merger will allow companies to save on maintaining the network and expand the user base.

Earlier in December SoftBank’s founder Masayoshi Son met President of the United States Donald Trump in New York, and promised him that SoftBank will invest in American projects $ 50 billion and will create up to 50,000 new jobs. Now Son said that the corporation has taken the first step towards fulfillment of this promise.

OneWeb manufactures communication satellites, which, in particular, help ensure that developing countries have rapid access to the Internet. Investment in OneWeb made SoftBank the largest shareholder of the company with a share of 40%. This transaction will result in creation of additional 3,000 jobs.

It should be noted that OneWeb not the only company that aims to build universal worldwide access to the Internet with drones, aerostats, low-orbit satellites or giant Internet towers. OneWeb’s main competitor is Elon Musk’s SpaceX. Last month, the company filed documents, in which proposed creation of 4425 satellites to provide access to the Internet across the Earth's surface. However, SpaceX indicated no specific timetable for implementation of the new project.

In January, Bloomberg reported that Mubadala Development Company, a state holding company of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi (UAE actually has the status of a sovereign wealth fund) is considering investing $ 10 billion to $ 15 billion in SoftBank’s Vision Fund.

Net profit of the Japanese telecommunications and media corporation Softbank, attributable to shareholders, amounted to 857.4 billion yen ($ 7.65 billion) for the first nine months of 2016 fiscal year (April - December 2016). This is two times higher than in the same period of 2016, according to the company.

Softbank’s net sales for the reporting period decreased by 0.2% to 6.58 trillion yen ($ 58.7 billion).

Operating profit in the third quarter totaled 295.7 billion yen ($ 2.6 billion). Analysts polled by Reuters predicted 246.3 billion yen ($ 2.2 billion).