Oneweb raises $550m as French satellite firm Eutelsat takes major stake
Oneweb today said it had raised $550m (£395m) in fresh funding from French satellite firm Eutelsat as the race to roll out space internet services gathers pace.
Eutelsat, which is part owned by the French state, will take a stake of roughly 24 per cent in the British company and take on similar governance rights to the UK government and Bharti Global.
The fresh cash injection takes Oneweb’s total equity raise to $1.9bn and means it has secured 80 per cent of the total financing needed for its first fleet of satellites.
Oneweb is plotting the launch of a constellation of 648 low-orbit satellites to deliver broadband services to the most remote parts of the globe.
The company came close to collapse last year but was rescued by a $1bn bailout by the UK and Indian billionaire Sunil Bharti Mittal.
In January Japanese conglomerate Softbank pumped $400m into the project, alongside $50m from US telecoms group Hughes Network Systems.
The latest funding comes amid growing competition between Oneweb and SpaceX, the company owned by Tesla founder Elon Musk.
The companies are racing to launch their satellite constellations and both are in talks with the government about aiding the rollout of full-fibre broadband services across the UK.
Oneweb yesterday launched its sixth batch of satellites, taking its total in-orbit constellation to 182. It has said it expects annual revenues of around $1bn once the system is completed.
Meanwhile the US Federal Trade Commission today approved Space X’s application to modify its Starlink satellite licence, marking a major victory for Musk.
“Today’s investment is another giant leap forward for Oneweb in realising their ambition to provide global broadband connectivity around the globe,” said business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng.
“Eutelsat brings over forty years of experience in the global satellite industry and this exciting new partnership puts Oneweb on a strong commercial footing, and the UK at the forefront of the latest developments in low Earth orbit technology.”