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UK CMA Takes Close Look at Viasat’s $7.3B Inmarsat Deal

October 14, 2022

The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority has begun an in-depth probe into American satellite internet company Viasat’s $7.3 billion proposal to buy British rival Inmarsat.

The CMA will refer the transaction to a Phase 2 investigation. Viasat and Inmarsat remain confident that the transaction will increase the availability of more affordable, faster, and more reliable IFC globally to operators, airlines, and passengers. While the market is still nascent, existing providers Panasonic and Intelsat combined represent more than 75% of the long-haul IFC market.

IFC is an attractive market which is also attracting new providers such as Starlink, Eutelsat/OneWeb and Telesat. According to multiple reports, over the last three years these new market entrants have raised over $20 billion in new capital illustrating both the attractiveness of the markets and the intensity of competition.

Mark Dankberg, Viasat’s CEO and executive chairman, said: “Our market success to date has been driven by applying innovative technologies to increase IFC speeds, reliability, and affordability. Our investments in the ViaSat-3 constellation and the Inmarsat transaction are intended to help us make these services more available globally. Industry analysts anticipate that an already highly competitive IFC market will become even more competitive with the entrance of new, heavily financed LEO competitors. We believe that a comprehensive Phase 2 analysis will support that our transaction will benefit the nascent, but rapidly growing IFC services available to airline passengers.”

“Inmarsat faces intense competition every day in providing in-flight connectivity,” added Rajeev Suri, Inmarsat CEO. “There is good reason to expect that intensity to increase given the power of well-funded new companies entering the sector. In the face of these changing market dynamics, the UK has much to gain by the presence of a strong satellite communications company, positioned to strengthen the country’s position in the critical space sector, while supporting its national defence and growing jobs and investment. The combined Inmarsat and Viasat would be such a company.”

As communicated by the CMA, Viasat and Inmarsat will actively participate in Phase 2. The companies will determine and communicate any updated expectations for the deal closing as engagement with the CMA continues throughout the Phase 2 investigation.

The proposed transaction has already secured several key regulatory approvals, most recently with the UK Government’s clearance of the proposed transaction under the National Security and Investment Act, and over the summer from the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States.

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