June 26th is ‘Bidding Day’ for OneWeb’s assets. Would-be buyers have to enter their bids for OneWeb, which is in bankruptcy. If no – or inadequate – bids are entered, then the process goes forward to an auction of assets on July 2nd.
The UK government is widely reported to have joined a consortium bidding to acquire OneWeb and has reportedly stumped up £500 million for a 20 per cent share of the bid.
The UK government sees OneWeb as a potential replacement for the European Union’s ‘Galileo’ GPS sat-nav system. The UK will be excluded from the military aspect of Galileo once it exits the EU. It had been originally suggested that the UK would have to pay between £4 billion-£5 billion to build its own sat-nav system. Buying OneWeb could be seen as giving the UK a ‘fast-track’ route to an independent system.
However, it is understood that the UK is far from alone in looking to buy OneWeb. There is Chinese interest from a number of potential competitors and a French bid potentially including existing satellite operator Eutelsat is also reportedly looking at bidding.
OneWeb has 74 satellites already in orbit and had planned to launch an initial 650 craft in order to circle the globe with a broadband-by-satellite system.