Regulators give provisional green light to £5.4bn Inmarsat takeover


Acquisition of UK satellite giant Inmarsat poised to explode as regulators tentatively give green light to £5.4bn deal

The takeover of UK satellite giant Inmarsat by US rival Viasat has tentatively given the green light for the £5.4bn takeover of UK satellite giant Inmarsat amid fears of the erosion of the UK industry.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said that while the two compete closely in the airline sector – in the provision of satellite connections for in-flight Wi-Fi – the deal does not substantially reduce competition for services provided on flights used by UK customers.

It said the merged company is likely to face “significant competition” as the industry grows.

Approved: The CMA said the acquisition of Inmarsat by US rival Viasat would not substantially reduce competition for services on flights for UK customers

The deal has met opposition from MPs as well as technology and defense experts amid a spate of takeovers of strategically important UK companies by foreign predators.

Inmarsat is the UK’s largest provider of inflight Wi-Fi for airlines and a major player in ship internet connectivity.

Customers include the British military and it is seen as crucial to the UK economy and national security.

It employs approximately 1,800 staff worldwide, including 860 in London.

Richard Feasey, chair of the independent research group conducting the CMA study, said: ‘This is an evolving and fast-growing industry, where there have been significant developments even during our four-month investigation.

“We see this continuing as demand for satellite connectivity increases.

The evidence suggests that the merged company will face significant competition in the coming years – from emerging players such as Starlink and established companies such as Intelsat and Panasonic.

“This has led us to the preliminary conclusion that airlines and their customers in the UK will not be adversely affected.”