French satellite operator Eutelsat announced on Tuesday that it had signed “a memorandum of understanding” to merge with Britain’s OneWeb and its Constellation, an operation intended to create a behemoth in the Internet-from-space race against SpaceX’s Starlink juggernaut.
A new chapter in the saga of Satellite Constellation: After announcing on Monday that it was “in discussions (…) for a possible merger” with OneWeb, in which it is already a 23% shareholder, French satellite operator Eutelsat confirmed on Tuesday that a memorandum of understanding had been signed. The two companies The shareholders will each hold 50% of the shares of the future combined group.
Specialist in geostationary orbitWith a fleet of 35 satellites 36,000 km from Earth for satellite broadcasting and high-speed Internet services, Eutelsat is already a shareholder of OneWeb, in which it holds 23% of the capital.. As part of this, the British company OneWeb, Originally created by American Greg Wyler, It has already deployed 428 of the 648 satellites in its constellation in low orbit, hundreds of kilometers above sea level, to provide high-speed internet with low latency or data transmission delay. It is essential to meet the rapidly growing demand.
The satellites, weighing around 150 kg, are supplied by European giant Airbus Defense and Space, which produces them in series at a factory in Florida owned by the joint venture OneWeb Satellite. The rest of the constellation will be placed into orbit by SpaceX, It replaces Russian Soyuz rockets, which are now unavailable after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
A world leader
Under the terms of the proposed transaction, shareholders of Eutelsat and OneWeb will acquire ownership 50% of each share in the combined group To create a global leader in connectivity. This consolidation project aims at the entire locationHigh Speed Space Internetespecially for Serving in isolated areas With or without fiber optics Meeting the future needs of connected vehicles, for example. It will allow A new monster has emerged against StarlinkAmerican billionaire Elon Musk’s constellation, which has already deployed more than half of the 4,408 satellites in its constellation, Or the future constellation Kuiper By Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.
European and Chinese projects
The European Union also wants to deploy Its own constellation in low orbit Around 250 satellites from 2024 in the name of sovereignty. According to European Commissioner Thierry Breton, this constellation will make it possible to end the “white zone” in Europe. To offer states encrypted communication using quantum technology, and terrestrial networks, being redundant targets for cyber attacks. As for China, it has its own constellation project, Guowang, from 13,000 satellites.
The British government saved OneWeb from bankruptcy with Indian businessman Sunil Bharti Mittal.
OneWeb was valued at $3.4 billion (€3.33 billion) at the time of its last financing, according to a source. This marriage project is far from being agreed on the stock market though: Eutelsat share
The Paris stock exchange plunged by 17% on Monday.
“Right now, we don’t have it No business plan For this constellation that has just started working,” Société Générale analyst Alexander Peterock argued, adding that it was difficult to comment on valuations “before OneWeb’s financials are understood”.
Surgery will likely be required A political agreement from the UK and the EU. In fact, the public bank BPFrance is Eutelsat’s leading shareholder with 20% of its capital. The British state, for its part, defended OneWeb from bankruptcy with Indian entrepreneur Sunil Bharti Mittaland thus become minority shareholders of the new entity.