OneWeb, the LEO system now backed by UK government, has cleared the challenges of Chapter 11 bankruptcy reconstruction.
The company, in a statement, said: “Today, OneWeb announces its emergence from US Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and achievement of all relevant regulatory approvals. A consortium of UK Government (through the UK Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) and Bharti Global, has invested $1 billion of new equity to offer broadband connectivity services, via a constellation of 650 LEO satellites.”
OneWeb says it will continue to be headquartered in the UK, bringing new R&D programmes, manufacturing opportunities and a global platform with priority spectrum usage rights. The company will ensure that the UK is at the forefront of a new commercial space industrial age, evolving technology and innovation, and will work with the UK commercial and academic space communities, along with other international specialists, in its research and development activities.
“In connection with completion of the restructuring process, OneWeb is pleased to announce that Neil Masterson has been appointed CEO. Neil is formerly Co-Chief Operating Officer at Thomson Reuters having enjoyed a 20-year career with the global provider of news, information, and software,” the company stated.
Masterson succeeds Adrian Steckel, who continues as an Adviser to the Board. Steckel joined OneWeb as CEO in September 2018 and has guided OneWeb through three successful launches, delivering 74 satellites into orbit, and securing priority spectrum use rights for OneWeb.
Masterson commented: “I am looking forward to helping the OneWeb team deliver and commercialise their vision to provide internet access across the globe. OneWeb has a strong social purpose to improve the world’s access to information, which I share. It has great talent, a compelling commercial opportunity, and is supported by committed and knowledgeable owners and investors. Our December launch puts the UK firmly in the global space business, alongside acknowledged Indian telecoms experts, Bharti Global. OneWeb will be a model for responsible co-operation in Space.”
Sunil Bharti Mittal, Founder and Chairman of Bharti Enterprises, said: “This new phase and focus for the Company brings new leadership from Neil Masterson, who has extensive experience successfully operating global technology platforms in a complex industry undergoing rapid change.”
“Together with our UK Government partner, we recognised that OneWeb has valuable global spectrum with priority rights, and we benefit from $3.3 billion invested to-date and from the satellites already in orbit, securing our usage rights. I would like to thank Adrian Steckel for his valued contribution. These are exciting times and the world now has a LEO alternative to work with. We look forward to partnering with those equally determined to enter this new Space Age. There is unmet demand around the globe for broadband connectivity and we intend to continue OneWeb’s social mission. We will use our joint venture facility to drive down cost of service, opening new use cases for low latency broadband provision,” added Mittal.
UK Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Alok Sharma said: “This strategic investment demonstrates Government’s commitment to the UK’s space sector in the long-term and our ambition to put Britain at the cutting edge of the latest advances in space technology. Access to our own global fleet of satellites has the potential to connect people worldwide, providing fast UK-backed broadband from the Shetlands to the Sahara and from Pole to Pole. This deal gives us the chance to build on our strong advanced manufacturing and services base in the UK, creating jobs and technical expertise.”
OneWeb also announced the target date of December 17th 2020 for its Return to Flight, with a 36-satellite payload scheduled for launch by Arianespace from the Vostochny Cosmodrome. All the satellites have been shipped from Florida to Vostochny and are now undergoing preparation for launch.
Following investment decisions made by the new shareholders, the joint venture facility with Airbus in Florida was re-activated and the dual production lines brought back into service.