FCC approves Viasat-Inmarsat merger

US-based satellite operator Viasat has received approval from the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for the proposed $7.3bn acquisition of Inmarsat.

Both companies supply businesses globally with satellite connectivity that enables services such as the internet, email, and video calling – including for use on aircraft.

The deal which first proposed around 18 months intends to integrate the spectrum, satellite and terrestrial assets of both companies into a global high-capacity hybrid space and terrestrial network, capable of delivering superior services in fast-growing commercial and government sectors.

The merger aims to create a framework incorporating the most favorable characteristics of multi-band, multi-orbit satellites and terrestrial air-to-ground systems. This includes higher speeds, more bandwidth, greater density of bandwidth at high demand locations and lower latency at lower costs.

Viasat, which faces competition in the IFC market from Panasonic and Intelsat, had hoped to complete the deal by the end of the year.

The UK competition watchdog, the Competition and Markets Authority, recently cleared the planned merger of satellite connectivity businesses Viasat and Inmarsat after an in-depth probe. With FCC’s approval, it leaves the European Commission’s (EC) competition review as the key ongoing regulatory process in relation to the transaction.

The EC launched an in-depth investigation to assess the buy, following its concerns that the transaction may allow Viasat to reduce competition in the market for the supply of broadband in-flight connectivity (IFC) services to commercial airlines.

According to Viasat, the transaction is expected to be finalised later this month, subject to required regulatory approvals, clearances and other customary closing conditions.

Viasat CEO Mark Dankberg said the transaction is a “transformative combination that advances our common ambitions to connect the world. The unique fusion of teams, technologies and resources provides the ingredients and scale needed for profitable growth through the creation and delivery of innovative broadband and IoT services in new and existing fast-growing segments and geographies.”

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