Advanced Television

Viasat, Inmarsat wrap merger

June 1, 2023

By Chris Forrester

After a long-drawn out series of competition investigations over the past 18 months, Viasat has finally wrapped its planned merger with Inmarsat. The deal represents the biggest satellite industry consolidation since SES acquired GE Americom back in November 2001 (which cost SES $5 billion at the time).

This Viasat deal is more complex given that its impact will be felt amongst some important – and growing – segments of the satellite industry.

The November 2021 deal valuation of $7.3 billion ($815 million in cash, $3.1 billion in Viasat stock and Viasat’s assumption of $3.4 billion in Inmarsat debt) has had to be modified somewhat, and the final invoice had a closing value of slightly more than $6.3 billion after accounting for the 31.6 per cent drop in Viasat’s stock value and matters such as the US dollar and Pound sterling fluctuations.

It also means that Viasat now owns a significant slice of the world’s aircraft communications and a near-total control of the world’s maritime fleets and their sat-coms demands.

The deal brings together two powerful players in the geostationary satellite world. However, it is also worth cautioning the deal by saying that competition in Viasat’s key satellite broadband from a growing number of Low Earth orbiting players (Starlink, O3b, OneWeb, the EU, Rivada, Telesat and the potential from Amazon’s Kuiper, plus Chinese and Russian deployments) could impact that growth.

In a statement, Viasat confirmed that its new global international business will be based in London, while the company’s HQ will remain in Carlsbad, California. Inmarsat’s most senior directors will join the Viasat board.

Britain’s minister of Science, Innovation and Technology, George Freeman, commented: “Satellite communications is a hugely significant and strategic global market for the UK space sector, now poised for an exciting next phase. The combination of Viasat and Inmarsat creates a global leader in satellite communications here in the UK. It brings significant investment, hundreds of new highly skilled jobs and will serve as a catalyst for substantial economic growth. Having met both companies, I look forward to working with them as we use the U.K.’s regulatory freedom and leadership to support advanced technologies to boost the space economy’s productivity, profitability and sustainability.”

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