Sunil Mittal's Bharti Global, UK Government Win Auction For Satellite Operator OneWeb

Andrew Cummings
July 5, 2020

The UK's Satellite Apps Catapult is working on a white paper that would lay out a strategy of utilizing the OneWeb constellation for a sat-sav technique. Bharti Global, founded by Indian telecoms billionaire Sunil Bharti Mittal will control another 45% of the company.

The company already had a minority stake in OneWeb and has expanded that as part of this partnership.

While Indian telecom czar Sunil Mittal's Bharti did not share deal details, UK Business Secretary Alok Sharma said his government and Bharti Global, will provide Dollars 500 million each.

"The deal presents the opportunity to further develop our strong advanced manufacturing base right here in the United Kingdom".

Consultancy McKinsey predicts that 50,000 low earth orbit satellites will be operating within 10 years.

Bankrolled by billionaire Elon Musk, Starlink hopes to provide cheap, reliable WiFi to people across the globe.

UK Business Secretary Alok Sharma confirmed that the government will invest USD500 million and take an undisclosed "significant equity share" in the satellite company, which filed for bankruptcy in March in the US.

OneWeb operates low earth orbit satellite broadband network.

It will also set up a National Space Council, chaired by finance minister Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, to look at space policy and wider national security issues.

OneWeb said this will act as a testing ground for its products.

The acquisition will boost the UK's advanced manufacturing industry, the government said, while ultimately supporting "the government's plan to join the first rank of space nations".

A number of companies were considering a bid for the failed satellite firm - including Canada's Telesat - but eventually the British/Indian bid won out.

In a statement, Bharti Enterprises said that the deal will enable OneWeb to complete the construction of a global satellite constellation that will provide enhanced broadband and other services to mobile and fixed terminals in countries around the world.

Adrian Steckel, CEO of OneWeb, stated: "We are delighted to have concluded the sale procedure with these types of a favourable result that will reward not only OneWeb's current collectors, but also our staff members, distributors, business associates, and supporters throughout the world who consider in the mission and in the assure of world connectivity".

Mittal's son, Shravin Bharti Mittal is a founder-director of Bharti Global and led the bid project.

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