The Strategist

UK will invest $ 500M to rescue rival of Elon Musk's Starlink

07/07/2020 - 03:24

The UK government will become a co-owner of OneWeb, which is creating a satellite network to access the Internet. In March, OneWeb filed for bankruptcy. The project is a direct competitor to the similar idea of SpaceX company.

Joint venture between the UK government and the Indian company Bharti Global Ltd. won a tender to buy a stake in the British satellite system operator OneWeb, according to a statement on the website of the UK cabinet.

The government will invest $ 500 million in the purchase and development of OneWeb and receive a “substantial” stake in the company. The volume of this share is not disclosed. According to the government, the deal will allow OneWeb to complete the project to create a "constellation" of satellites, which will provide broadband Internet access around the world. The transaction must still be approved by the US Bankruptcy Court, it must also be checked for compliance with all laws. The British Cabinet expects that it will be closed before the end of the year.

A report on the OneWeb website indicated that the UK government and Bharti Global Ltd.’s total investment in the company will exceed $ 1 billion and will be directed to the acquisition of the company and a complete reload of its business processes.

Bharti Global is part of the Bharti Airtel group, which owns the third largest mobile operator in the world, with more than 425 million subscribers. By acquiring a stake in OneWeb, the UK government expects to accelerate the country's development as a pioneer in the research, development, production and operation of the latest satellite technologies, the Cabinet noted. 

OneWeb was created in 2014 by former Google employee Greg Wyler. The first satellite was launched into orbit last year, now there are 74 of the planned 648 vehicles. Over the years, companies such as Airbus, Coca-Cola, Virgin Group, Qualcomm and SoftBank have invested in OneWeb. In March, the company filed for bankruptcy after it failed to negotiate support with investors. In April, the company asked the government for a loan of $ 500 million, but then the cabinet refused.