An artist's depiction of a ViaSat-3 broadband satellite. Credit: Boeing Satellite Systems

SAN FRANCISCO — Viasat Inc. announced an agreement Dec. 21 to acquire Houston-based communications firm RigNet Inc. in an all-stock transaction with a value of approximately $222 million based on Viasat’s current share price and RigNet’s debt.

RigNet has particular expertise in the energy sector, a vertical market of interest to Viasat, which is preparing to launch its three-satellite Viasat-3 constellation, Rick Baldridge, Viasat president and CEO, told SpaceNews.

“We have been very impressed with how the RigNet team has adjusted given the ups and downs of the oil and gas market and new applications,” Baldridge said. “We spoke to their customers over the last few years, who value and trust them.”

In addition to oil and gas communications, applications and cybersecurity, RigNet has expertise in supervisory control and data acquisition computer systems to gather and immediately analyze data, Baldridge said.

Steven Pickett, RigNet President and CEO, said his firm share’s Viasat’s goal of delivering best-in-class service and gaining market share not only in communications but also in applying artificial intelligence and machine learning to analyze customer data.

RigNet monitors “the flow of data moving through the network to look for things that can help our customers run their businesses more effectively,” Pickett said.

For example, RigNet monitors fracking data to predict when specific types of maintenance will be necessary, which “allows our customers to fire up a supply chain in order to respond to a potential outage, and therefore reduce their downtime, making them more effective,” Pickett said.

Viasat’s RigNet purchase comes on the heels of Carlsbad, California-based Viasat’s November acquisition of the assets of a European joint venture it established with Eutelsat Communications, including the KA-SAT broadband satellite.

“With the acquisition of RigNet, we are accelerating the diversification of our connectivity portfolio and establishing a global foundation for expansion of our remote enterprise service offerings,” Baldridge said in a statement. “RigNet’s successful track record, global footprint, deep customer relationships and emerging technology expertise in areas like machine learning and artificial intelligence make this transaction an ideal fit as we launch our integrated global broadband platform. The transaction is accretive to cashflow, and is expected to improve our leverage position as well as offer multiple opportunities for expansion and performance upside beyond RigNet’s robust energy services business.”

RigNet, for its part, is “very enthusiastic about combining with Viasat,” Picket told SpaceNews.

RigNet’s business is based on providing “broadband connectivity and networking capabilities in the most challenging environments—gained from our global deployment of more than 1,200 onshore and offshore sites and 11,000 industrial internet-of-things sites,” Pickett said in a statement. “This combination also represents an outstanding opportunity for us to accelerate both the investment in and the adoption of our digital transformation solutions more rapidly outside of our core oil and gas vertical. Our customers are demanding more enhanced communications solutions.”

Viasat plans to launch Viasat-3 Americas in late 2021, followed by a second Viasat-3 covering Europe, the Middle East and Africa in 2022.

Debra Werner is a correspondent for SpaceNews based in San Francisco. Debra earned a bachelor’s degree in communications from the University of California, Berkeley, and a master’s degree in Journalism from Northwestern University. She...