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Bharti to Become OneWeb’s Largest Shareholder With Additional $500M Investment

By Rachel Jewett | June 29, 2021
OneWeb Graphic

An artist’s rendition of the OneWeb constellation. Photo: OneWeb

Bharti Global will invest $500 million more into OneWeb, fully funding the Low-Earth Orbit (LEO) constellation company and making Bharti Global the company’s largest shareholder. 

In the deal announced June 29, Bharti Global is exercising a call option under existing shareholders’ agreement to invest an additional $500 million. The call is expected to be completed in the second half of 2021, and it is subject to regulatory approval. Bharti will then hold 38.6% of OneWeb, with the U.K. government, Eutelsat, and Softbank each owning 19.3%. 

[Via Satellite Archive: Sunil Bharti Mittal Talks Renewed Faith in ‘Hidden Gem’ OneWeb]

The investment comes a year after the U.K. government and Bharti agreed to rescue OneWeb from bankruptcy with $500 million investment each. The company’s bankruptcy came about when investor SoftBank pulled funding in March 2020. Since then, Hughes Network Systems invested $50 million, then SoftBank re-invested, and Eutelsat recently joined the consortium. OneWeb’s funding is $2.4 billion of equity investment, with no issued debt. 

“OneWeb represents a unique opportunity for investors at a key moment in the commercialization of space,” commented Sunil Bharti Mittal, OneWeb executive chairman. “With its Global ITU [International Telecommunication Union] LEO spectrum priority, telco partnerships, successful launch momentum, and reliable satellites, OneWeb is ready to serve the vital needs of high-speed broadband connectivity for those who have been left behind.” 

Bharti Mittal continued, addressing OneWeb’s use cases of universal service obligations for nations, backhaul for telcos, and remote installations for enterprise and governments. 

Arianespace is set to launch OneWeb’s eight batch of 36 satellites on July 1. These satellites are designed to be able to cover the Arctic region down to 50 degrees latitude. OneWeb also recently signed an MoU with United Kingdom telco BT to explore the provision of improved digital communication services in hard to serve areas.