Eutelsat and OneWeb agreed to merge into a single European satellite operator

Eutelsat and OneWeb agreed to merge into a single European satellite operator

The British company OneWeb and the French satellite operator Eutelsat Communications SA have signed a memorandum of understanding, which implies a subsequent merger of two companies to create a pan-European operator. As a result of the deal, Eutelsat will acquire OneWeb, but the British government will retain a share in the start-up with priority voting rights.

The OneWeb shareholders will pay their share in the Eutelsat start-up in exchange for the recently released shares of a French operator, estimated at $3.4 billion. Eutelsat and OneWeb will receive 50% of the shares of the joint venture. Eutelsat will own 100% of the shares of OneWeb at the time of closing, except for the "special share" that the British government will retain on OneWeb. This will give it the right to vote on national security issues, including safety standards for the OneWeb network and the location of its headquarters.

The deal will bring the Eutelsat satellite fleet together in geostationary orbit.

OneWeb will continue to operate under its brand with its headquarters in the UK, and Eutelsat will continue with its headquarters in France and will remain listed on the Euronext stock market in Paris. Eutelsat also plans to carry out additional listings on the London Stock Exchange. It is expected that the joint venture will generate about Euro1.2 billion in the 2022–23 fiscal year.

The current CEO, Eutelsat Eva Berneke, as the leading shareholder of OneWeb, will be appointed as co-chair of the board.

The memorandum of understanding was unanimously approved by the Eutelsat and OneWeb boards. The deal is expected to be closed by the end of the first half of 2023.