London-based Inmarsat operates a global suite of satellites providing connectivity to some of the world’s shipping and aircraft fleets. Last week, Inmarsat rejected an initial “highly preliminary” bid from Denver-based EchoStar, owned by Charlie Ergen.
Veteran British politician Sir Vince Cable (and a former Secretary of State for Business) has warned that any take-over of Inmarsat could be risky. He Tweeted saying: “Need to watch. Takeover could be another GKN of SoftBank acquisition of [chip-maker] ARM. A British high-tech company disappears. Weakness of public interest test and lack of will to fight.”
If EchoStar decides to increase its offer the UK government could be forced to examine the proposal and ask whether the purchase is in the national interest. A major Inmarsat client is the British military. The same examination would need to be made if a new would-be buyer emerges.