Satellite Company OneWeb Emerges From Bankruptcy With UK, Bharti Backing
By Adam Clark
Satellite company OneWeb has emerged from bankruptcy protection
after receiving a $1 billion investment from the British government
and India's Bharti Global Ltd., as the U.K. looks to strengthen its
position in space technology.
OneWeb filed for U.S. bankruptcy protection in March having only
launched 74 of its planned 650 low-Earth-orbit satellites. The U.K.
government teamed up with Indian businessman Sunil Mittal--the
owner of Bharti Airtel Ltd.--to acquire the London-based company
and secure a 'golden share', which will allow it to veto future
investments and limit technological access from other
The deal is one of several moves that Boris Johnson's government
has made to secure what it sees as strategic technology. It
proposed new legislation the past week to make it easier to block
foreign takeovers of British companies, and on Wednesday it said it
would launch its biggest increase in defense spending since the
Cold War, including forming a new Space Command.
"Access to our own global fleet of satellites has the potential
to connect people world-wide, providing fast U.K.-backed broadband
from the Shetlands to the Sahara and from Pole to Pole," U.K.
Business Secretary Alok Sharma said.
Neil Masterson, a former chief operating officer at Thomson
Reuters Corp., has been appointed as chief executive of OneWeb.
Previous CEO Adrian Steckel will continue as an adviser to the
board. The company intends to launch another 34 to 36 satellites in
December, with further launches through 2021 and 2022.
A joint-venture facility with Airbus SE in Florida has been
reactivated and its production lines brought back into service.
"Early research at Airbus and from a number of other key experts
indicates that future OneWeb LEO satellites could offer greater
national resilience and a huge leap forward in the infrastructure
needed to roll out truly autonomous vehicles--land, air and sea,"
Richard Franklin, managing director of Airbus Defence and Space
Write to Adam Clark at firstname.lastname@example.org
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
November 20, 2020 11:08 ET (16:08 GMT)
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