In a partnership with the UK government, India’s Bharti Enterprises has won an auction to take over global communications company OneWeb. The investment worth $1 billion (Rs 7,465 crore) in the British firm will be shared equally between the two bidders.
OneWeb was founded in 2012 and had raised around $3 billion from investors to build build a system of satellites to transmit wireless broadband globally before going bankrupt in March failing to raise money from lead investor SoftBank. The company aims to offer high-speed, low-latency broadband services, specifically in rural areas and compete with similar projects like Elon Musk’s SpaceX Starlink and Jeff Bezos’s Amazon-backed Project Kuiper.
The deal will see Bharti making its investment through its overseas arm Bharti Global, although the UK government is said to take a significant equity share in OneWeb, said Alok Sharma, UK business secretary. “Bharti will be leading the effort to deliver the promise of universal broadband connectivity through OneWeb, with active support and participation of the British government. Further, India’s leading-edge capabilities in the space programme through the Indian Space Research Organisation can be leveraged to accelerate OneWeb’s ambitions,” Bharti Enterprises chairman Sunil Mittal said in a statement.
OneWeb is expected to complete the construction of the constellation of internet-beaming satellites thanks to the latest proposed investment. While the project is subject to get clearance from a US court and other regulatory approvals, it is expected to close before the end of the year. “We are delighted to have concluded the sale process with such a positive outcome that will benefit not only OneWeb’s existing creditors, but also our employees, vendors, commercial partners, and supporters worldwide who believe in the mission and in the promise of global connectivity,” said OneWeb CEO Adrian Steckel.