French Eutelsat in talks on a merger with UK space startup OneWeb to take on SpaceX’s Starlink, Amazon Project Kuiper
UK-based UK space startup OneWeb and rival French satellite company Eutelsat are in talks over a possible merger to create one joint communications entity. The combined company would create multi-orbit satellites that will potentially expand OneWeb’s constellation big enough to challenge the likes of Elon Musk-owned SpaceX’s Starlink and Amazon.com’s Project Kuiper.
In a July 25 press release, French satellite operator Eutelsat confirmed the talks after days of rumors about a potential merger between the two companies.
“Following recent market rumors, Eutelsat Communications (Euronext Paris: ETL) confirms that it has engaged in discussions with its co-shareholders in OneWeb regarding a potential all-share combination to create a global leader in Connectivity with complementary GEO/LEO activities,” Eutelsat said in a statement.
Eutelsat’s statement came after two sources close to the negotiations told Reuters over the weekend that the company was poised to buy OneWeb, which was valued at $3.4 billion in its most recent funding round and in which Eutelsat already has a 23% stake.
We covered OneWeb last year after the UK tech space startup secured $550 million in funding from Eutelsat. The new funding gave Eutelsat a.24% equity stake in OneWeb and increased the UK startup funding to $1.9 billion. As we said back then, “the investment from one of the world’s most experienced and largest global operators is a vote of confidence in OneWeb and underscores the arrival of Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites into mainstream long-term growth planning for major operators.”
“The combined entity would be the first multi-orbit satellite operator offering integrated GEO and LEO solutions and would be uniquely positioned to address a booming ~$16bn (2030) Satellite Connectivity market. OneWeb is one of the two only global LEO networks and has experienced strong momentum over recent months, with service expected to be fully deployed in 2023,” Eutelsat said in a press release.
Founded in 2011 by Greg Wyler, its mission is to address the most demanding global connectivity challenges and sudden infrastructure crises. OneWeb is the first to launch a 5G network in space. Its mission is to enable Internet access for everyone, everywhere. OneWeb is building a communications network with a constellation of Low Earth Orbit satellites that will provide connectivity to billions of people around the world. Its high-speed, low latency network will offer game-changing mobility solutions to industries that rely on global connectivity.
OneWeb’s 648 LEO satellite fleet will deliver high-speed, low-latency global connectivity. Its partnership with Eutelsat, a global geostationary satellite operator, will enhance both companies’ commercial potential, leveraging Eutelsat’s established commercial reach to governments and enterprise customers in addition to its strong institutional relationships, recognized technical expertise, and global fleet. OneWeb’s ability to address multiple applications requiring low latency and ubiquity will also allow both companies to explore GEO/LEO configurations for future service integrations and packages.