OneWeb co-acquired by Maryland-based Hughes
London- and McLean-based satellite internet company filed for bankruptcy in March
Germantown, Maryland-based Hughes Network Systems LLC has joined a coalition with the United Kingdom government and Bharti Enterprises Ltd. of India to acquire London-based OneWeb, which has its U.S. headquarters in McLean, out of bankruptcy.
Hughes invested $50 million in the coalition to acquire OneWeb, which has plans to launch a constellation of 650 low Earth orbit satellites to provide Internet service to a global market that would include rural and remote regions where broadband has been unavailable. As of March, OneWeb, which was founded in 2012 and has offices in California and a satellite manufacturing center in Florida, had launched 74 of the satellites.
OneWeb filed for bankruptcy in May, citing difficulty in raising the funds needed to deploy the remaining 90% of its satellite constellation. It laid off 85% of its 531-person global workforce, but its satellite network is still functioning.
“We are pleased to be part of this winning team, along with the British Government and Bharti,” Hughes President Pradman Kaul said in a statement. “Our continuing and strengthened involvement with OneWeb extends naturally from our position as a leading geostationary satellite operator and ground network innovator, along with a meaningful partnership with Bharti and longstanding relationship with the U.K. through our business operations in both countries.
“This global consortium brings the right players together to fulfill the promise of the OneWeb constellation in deploying low-latency services for communities, enterprises, governments, airplanes and ships – complementing geostationary connectivity and ushering in the new era of multitransport services that will serve growing bandwidth demand around the world. We look forward to doing our part in developing this groundbreaking technology and bringing those services to market.”
Bharti Enterprises founder and Chairman Sunil Bharti Mittal said, “We are delighted to welcome Hughes to the consortium. The investment by Hughes underlines OneWeb’s exciting commercial prospects, reflected in the ongoing discussions with some of the world’s leading strategic and financial investors.”