Viasat/Inmarsat deal at risk
February 14, 2022
By Chris Forrester
Back in November 2021, California-based Viasat, a major broadband satellite operator, announced it had reached an agreement to acquire London-based Inmarsat. The deal was worth some $7.3 billion (£6.3bn) in a mix of cash, shares and assumption of Inmarsat’s debt. Now the acquisition is under threat according to reports.
The problem is that small print that always accompanies such deals: “subject to regulatory approval”.
Reportedly, there’s anxiety amongst British regulators and there have been high-level meetings between UK government officials and senior managers from both Viasat and Inmarsat.
Viasat has happily issued helpful statements about maintain Inmarsat’s London HQ and its staff, but according to reports the British government is seeking a greater commitment from Viasat towards investment in the ‘UK’ portion of the merged businesses.
Viasat’s CEO Rick Baldridge has stated that Viasat fully intends to continue with Inmarsat’s investment plans but the UK government is said to be seeking ‘cast iron’ and legally binding commitments.
“This is not a step-in-and-steal deal,” Baldridge said in a statement. “We have a longstanding relationship in the UK, we didn’t just come here for this deal. It isn’t about ripping out cost to make the numbers. I don’t think people here will see a lot of change.”
Baldridge stated that Inmarsat is already in private hands (mostly professional investors) and some 75 per cent of the company is already in the hands of non-UK investors.