UK government-backed takeover of OneWeb completed

OneWeb has completed its emergence from US Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection after a proposed takeover by a consortium including the UK government and Bharti Global was granted approval, with the company now preparing to recommence its satellite launch programme next month.

The takeover consortium has invested $1 billion of new equity into the firm to continue with its mission to build a constellation of 650 Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites offering broadband connectivity services on a global basis. 74 OneWeb satellites have been launched to date.

OneWeb has targeted 17th December 2020 for its Return to Flight, with a 36-satellite payload planned to be lifted into orbit by Arianespace from the Vostochny Cosmodrome. All of the satellites have already been shipped from Florida to Vostochny and are now undergoing preparation for launch.

The new shareholders have also backed the reactivation of OnerWeb’s joint venture facility with Airbus in the USA, bringing its dual production lines back into service.

Launches are expected to continue throughout 2021 and 2022, with the introduction of commercial connectivity services to the UK and the Arctic region expected late next year before the network expands to delivering global services in 2022.

OneWeb will continue to be headquartered in the UK, with Neil Masterson taking over as CEO after 20 years with Thomson Reuters. He succeeds Adrian Steckel, who continues as an Adviser to the Board.

“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,” said Mr Masterson.

“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.”

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Rob O'Dwyer

Rob is Chief Network Officer and one of the founders of Smart Maritime Network. He also serves as Chairman of the Smart Maritime Council. Rob has worked in the maritime technology sector since 2005, managing editorial for a range of leading publications in the transport and logistics sector. Get in touch by email by clicking here, or on LinkedIn by clicking here.

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