Eutelsat said on October 6 that it is executing an alternative in the newest OneWeb funding round, adding $165 million to the broadband satellite startup. After the acquisition concludes, Eutelsat will own approximately 23 percent of OneWeb, putting the Paris-centered satellite operator in second place after Bharti Global’s 30 percent stake. The purchase was made on the same terms as Eutelsat’s $550 million investment in OneWeb, which would have given it a 24 percent share in the company.
However, in June, Bharti decided to execute a call option to increase its OneWeb investment to about $1 billion, giving the Indian conglomerate a 38.6 percent stake in the company and reducing Eutelsat’s 19.3 percent. Then, in August, Hanwha spent $300 million to acquire an 8.8% share in OneWeb, thus lowering Bharti’s and Eutelsat’s holdings. Eutelsat will effectively boost its ownership from 17.6 percent to 22.9 percent by executing a call option on the portion of the last funding round subscribed by Bharti.
Eutelsat Chief Executive Officer Rodolphe Belmer praised the “great progress [OneWeb] has achieved in the run-up to its now impending introduction into service” in announcing the deal. On September 14, OneWeb launched 34 more broadband satellites into low Earth orbit, bringing the total number of satellites in its low Earth orbit constellation to 332 out of a total of 648. Its next thirty-six satellites are scheduled to launch on October 14 from Russia’s Vostochny Cosmodrome aboard a Soyuz rocket. Last month, OneWeb said it was on schedule to launch commercial service in the Northern Hemisphere’s higher reaches by mid-December, if not sooner.
Eutelsat is among the world’s largest satellite providers with a robust network of satellites across Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Americas. Eutelsat’s satellites broadcast almost 7,000 television stations, 1,400 of which are in high definition, as well as 1,100 radio stations to more than 274 million cable and satellite households. They also meet the needs for TV broadcasting, business networks, Internet backbone connectivity, mobile communications, and broadband access for terrestrial, maritime, and in-flight applications. The headquarters of EUTELSAT is in Paris, France.
NOORSAT, one of the biggest satellite service suppliers in the Middle East, was acquired by EUTELSAT from Bahrain’s Orbit Holding Group in October 2017. NOORSAT is the Middle East’s major distributor of Eutelsat capacity, serving blue-chip clients and offering over 300 TV channels almost entirely from Eutelsat’s market-leading the Middle East and North Africa satellites at 7/8° West and 25.5° East.