TAMPA, Fla. — Private equity firm Providence Equity Partners has agreed to buy a majority stake in Marlink, valuing the maritime connectivity specialist at $1.4 billion.

U.S.-based Providence is acquiring the stake from French private equity firm Apax Partners, which said it will retain a significant minority shareholding. 

The two private equity firms entered exclusive talks in August about a deal for Marlink, which buys capacity on satellite and terrestrial networks to connect remote operations for maritime, enterprise, energy, humanitarian and government customers.

Marlink’s management team and Ardian, another French private equity firm, said in the Sept. 13 announcement that they are also retaining minority stakes in the company.

Other financial details were not disclosed. 

Bertrand Pivin, a partner at Apax Partners, said Marlink has tripled revenues and multiplied its EBITDA — or earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization — 10 times since the private equity firm first invested in the company 15 years ago.

Apax Partners bought France-and-Norway-headquartered Marlink in 2016 from Airbus for an undisclosed sum.

In April 2021, Marlink snapped up enterprise-focused satellite solutions provider ITC Global to further diversify its business.

“The 10,000-strong remote broadband terminals installed worldwide will serve as a springboard to design and deliver the much-needed digital services which Marlink’s direct customers are seeking for their business-critical operations,” Pivin said in a statement.

“We believe Providence is the partner of choice to conduct the next stage of this extraordinary journey. Apax is keen to roll-over part of its investment and hold a significant fraction of the share capital, in order to continue to back this remarkable company.”

They expect to close the transaction in the first half of next year, following regulatory and other customary approvals. 

The deal is the latest in a far-reaching shake-up for the satellite communications services market this year. 

In March 2021, Marlink’s peers Speedcast and Anuvu — formerly Global Eagle Entertainment — exited their respective bankruptcy process with strengthened balance sheets.

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...