The conquest of space seems to give wings to other actors. In effect, Eutelsat Communications -the French satellite operator- confirmed today that it has entered into discussions for a possible merger with OneWeb.
The project called Erika (E for Eutelsat) would consist of merging the two companies in equal shares via a share exchange mechanism, in order to respect the shareholder balance. It should be noted that the Frenchman’s largest shareholder is the public investment bank Bpifrance (20%) and OneWeb has its capital divided between Bharti Global (30%), Eutelsat (23%), the British government (17.6%), the Japanese Softbank (17.6%) and Korean Hanwa (8.8%).
This operation would create a new pan-European structure and compete directly star link (Elon Musk’s satellite internet). However, the Paris Stock Exchange does not seem very seduced by this new relationship. Since this morning, the title widened its losses, falling by more than 17%.
As a reminder, Eutelsat already owns 23% of the capital of the British company. This stake was recorded in April 2021 before being followed by a global distribution agreement unveiled in March 2022 and would be a fairly logical follow-up. The firm – specialist in geostationary orbit – has 35 satellites positioned 36,000 kilometers from Earth for satellite broadcasting and high-speed internet services. For its part, OneWeb has already deployed 428 of the 648 satellites in low orbitat a few hundred km altitude (to provide high speed internet and low latency in data transmission).
Across the Atlantic, Starlink has taken a head start having deployed more than half of its 4,408 satellites. Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, plans to send more than 3,200 satellites for his Kuiper constellation. Also, the European Union intends not to remain in the harbor and put into orbit around 250 satellites from 2024. According to Thierry Breton, this operation should put an end to the
white areas in Europe, offer encrypted communications and limit cyberattacks.