SAS Global enters bankruptcy-like status

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WASHINGTON — Cash-strapped startup Sky and Space Global transferred control of the company April 6 to an accounting firm in an effort to preserve some or all of its business. 

The internet-of-things startup, which had hoped to deploy a constellation of 200 cubesats, filed for “voluntary administration,” a bankruptcy-like procedure in Australia where it is publicly listed. 

Australian companies can file for voluntary administration when facing insolvency as an alternative to liquidation. The five- to six-week process involves establishing an administrator — SAS Global chose Hall Chadwick Chartered Accountants of Sydney, Australia — to meet with creditors and chart a course for the imperiled company. 

Sky and Space Global, in a brief notice to the Australian Stock Exchange, said it will host a meeting with creditors no later than April 14. The company gave no explanation of the reasons behind its financial shortcomings. 

Sky and Space Global had raised 47 million Australian dollars ($29.1 million) in equity, according to a January investor presentation. The company, at the time, was seeking to raise $14.2 million to build and launch an initial eight satellites. 

Sky and Space Global entered voluntary administration one day after another Australian internet-of-things startup, Myriota, announced completion of a $19.3 million Series B to fund a constellation of 25 small satellites. 

Myriota CEO Alex Grant said the company began fundraising before the coronavirus pandemic impacted global markets, making it difficult to gain new investment. 

Venture capitalists and private equity investors are rarely considering new investments amid the coronavirus pandemic, Chris Quilty, founder of Quilty Analytics, said during a SpaceNews webinar April 7. 

“They’re primarily looking at their existing portfolio and trying to save their existing companies — and deciding who lives and who dies,” he said. 

Sky and Space Global launched three prototype satellites in 2017. The firm anticipated launching service-grade satellites in early 2021, but hasn’t raised the funding to do so.