CMA to pursue in-depth review of Viasat-Inmarsat deal

The UK’s Competition & Market Authority has announced plans for an in-depth investigation into Viasat’s proposed US$7.3 billion acquisition of Inmarsat.

Mark Dankberg

The deal was first proposed around a year ago, and has already been subject to a preliminary review by the CMA. The Authority has now triggered a Phase 2 investigation after raising concerns the deal could harm competition in the inflight Wi-Fi connectivity (IFC) market. This runs counter to Viasat’s claim that the merger would increase efficiencies and make IFC more affordable, faster and reliable.

Viasat, which faces competition in the IFC market from Panasonic and Intelsat, had hoped to complete the deal by the end of the year, but the CMA report will not be available until March 30 2023 at the earliest. Nevertheless, Viasat and Inmarsat are confident they will be able to allay the CMA’s fears. Viasat CEO Mark Dankberg said: “We believe the Phase 2 analysis will support that our transaction will benefit the nascent, but rapidly growing IFC services available to airline passengers.”

Inmarsat operates a diversified business, including broadcast services. Key areas of expertise include live newsgathering and sports coverage. Earlier this year, Inmarsat provided high-speed connectivity to enable SVOD platform History Hit to broadcast the discovery of Antarctic explorer Ernest Shackleton’s lost ship, Endurance.

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