Regulators give provisional green light to £5.4bn Inmarsat takeover

Takeover of UK satellite giant Inmarsat ready for blast off as regulators give provisional green light to £5.4bn deal

The £5.4billion takeover of UK satellite giant Inmarsat by US rival Viasat has been given the provisional green light amid fears over the hollowing out of British industry. 

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said that while the two compete closely in the aviation sector – in the supply of satellite connections for onboard wifi – the deal does not substantially reduce competition for services provided on flights used by UK customers. 

It said the merged company will likely face ‘significant competition’ as the sector expands. 

Approved: The CMA said Inmarsat’s takeover by US rival Viasat would not substantially reduce competition for services provided on flights for UK customers

The deal faced opposition from MPs as well as technology and defence experts amid a wave of takeovers of strategically important British firms by overseas predators. 

Inmarsat is Britain’s largest provider of in-flight wifi for airlines and a major player in internet connections for ships. 

Customers include the British military and it is seen as crucial to the UK’s economy and national security. 

It employs around 1,800 staff across the world, including 860 in London. 

Richard Feasey, chairman of the independent inquiry group carrying out the CMA investigation, said: ‘This is an evolving and rapidly expanding sector, in which there have been significant developments even during the course of our four-month investigation. 

‘We see this continuing as demand for satellite connectivity increases. 

‘The evidence suggests that the merged company will face significant competition in the coming years – from emerging players like Starlink and established firms like Intelsat and Panasonic. 

‘This has led us to provisionally conclude that airlines and their UK customers will not be adversely affected.’ 

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