TAMPA, Fla. — 4iG, a Hungarian provider of terrestrial communications, plans to buy a majority stake in Israeli satellite operator Spacecom in stages following resistance from Israel’s government.

4iG said Sept. 29 that Israel’s Ministry of Communications has approved its plan to buy an initial 20% of the operator, which the Hungarian telco sees as a springboard for its global space ambitions.

Under 4iG’s agreement with Spacecom, it can increase its ownership by another 31% over the next three years if it can get approvals from the operator’s shareholders and the Israeli government.

4iG had originally announced plans in June 2021 to acquire 51% of Spacecom for $65 million.

However, the Israeli government had concerns about Spacecom’s satellites coming under foreign control, the Jerusalem Post reported in January, and 4iG’s ties to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

“By this agreement, 4iG can be the very first Hungarian enterprise that bears capabilities from landline to space communication assets,” 4iG chair Gellért Jászai said in a Sept. 29 statement.

4iG is part of a joint venture called CarpathiaSat that has announced plans to launch Hungary’s first communications satellite.

CarpathiaSat, which also includes TV and radio broadcast company Antenna Hungária and international relations specialist New Space Industries, plans to use an orbital slot Hungary is currently leasing to Spacecom for the project.

That lease is due to expire in 2024, when CarpathiaSat says it will take over the right to operate Hungary’s orbital position for 20 years. 

Spacecom uses the Hungarian orbital slot for Amos-3, one of four broadcast and broadband satellites that the Israeli company operates to serve Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.

Jászai said Spacecom’s expertise could help Hungary launch its inaugural commercial satellite within four to five years.

Last year, 4iG acquired a majority stake in a Hungarian satellite communications services provider to fortify its space strategy.

In January, the telco completed its acquisition of DIGI, a satellite TV broadcaster and one of Hungary’s largest telecoms providers.

Jason Rainbow writes about satellite telecom, space finance and commercial markets for SpaceNews. He has spent more than a decade covering the global space industry as a business journalist. Previously, he was Group Editor-in-Chief for Finance Information...