Viasat’s Inmarsat acquisition clears UK national security review

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PARIS — Viasat took a step closer to buying London-based Inmarsat Sept. 16 after the British government ruled it poses no risk to the U.K.’s national security.

The government found sufficient measures in place to protect sensitive information from unauthorized access, and to continue the provision of strategic capabilities to the U.K. following the merger.

The review was conducted as part of new national security procedures under the UK National Security and Investment Act 2021 (NSI Act), which came into force Jan. 4.

The legislation gave the government more power to scrutinize and intervene in acquisitions of companies in space and other sensitive areas.

Inmarsat and California-headquartered Viasat have made economic commitments to the government to help clear their $7.3 billion transaction.

These include a pledge to expand the number of highly skilled jobs in certain areas of the United Kingdom, and to increase research and development spending by 30% in the country.

The transaction remains subject to other regulatory reviews, including approval from the U.K.’s competition regulator, the Competition and Markets Authority.

The satellite operators recently received approval for the deal from the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS).

However, they still need the green light from the U.S. Federal Communications Commission and Justice Department.

The European Commission said July 27 that the deal would also need antitrust approval from the European Union before it can be completed.

“Timing of the process is down to the EU, but we are cooperating fully and engaging with the regulator regarding the transaction,” Inmarsat spokesperson Jonathan Sinnatt said.

Viasat CEO Mark Dankberg said Sept. 13 that it will “probably be another month or so” before the company has a sense of whether it can close the acquisition this year or in 2023.