Eutelsat ups its OneWeb stake with additional $165 million

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WASHINGTON — Eutelsat announced Oct. 6 that it is exercising an option in the latest OneWeb funding round, investing an additional $165 million into the broadband satellite company. 

Eutelsat says it will own nearly 23% of OneWeb, giving the Paris-based satellite operator the second largest stake behind Bharti Global’s 30% share once the transaction closes.

Eutelsat said the deal was made on the same terms as its $550 million investment in OneWeb announced in April that would have given it a 24% stake in OneWeb.

However, Bharti moved in June to exercise a call option to double its OneWeb investment to $1 billion, a move that was  expected to give the Indian conglomerate a 38.6% share of the company and reduce Eutelsat’s share to 19.3%. Then, in August, South Korea’s Hanwha paid $300 million for an 8.8% stake in OneWeb, reducing Bharti’s and Eutelsat’s stakes. 

Eutelsat, by exercising a call option on a portion of the latest funding round subscribed by Bharti, will effectively increase its stake from 17.6% to 22.9%.

In announcing the transaction, Eutelsat CEO Rodolphe Belmer noted the “significant progress [OneWeb] has made in the run-up to its now imminent entry into service.”

OneWeb launched 34 more satellites Sept. 14, enlarging its low Earth orbit constellation of broadband satellites to 332 of a planned 648-satellite constellation. Its next 36 satellites are slated to launch Oct. 14 aboard a Soyuz rocket lifting off from Russia’s Vostochny Cosmodrome.

OneWeb said last month it was on track to introduce commercial service in the upper reaches of the Northern Hemisphere by mid-December if not sooner.