LONDON — Viasat’s acquisition of British satellite mobile communications company Inmarsat has cleared a key hurdle with the approval of the deal by the U.K.’s competition authority May 9.
The $7.3 billion merger offer, launched in November 2021, has most recently been stalled by a Competition and Markets Authority investigation into whether the tie-up would adversely impact competition in the fast growing supply of satellite connectivity for wi-fi on flights.
Both companies have significant activities in the defense and security sectors in Britain.
The British government approved the deal last year but progress towards finalizing the acquisition had been halted by the CMA’s intervention.
In a statement the CMA said it had concluded that “while Viasat and Inmarsat compete closely – specifically in the supply of satellite connectivity for wifi on flights – the deal does not substantially reduce competition for services provided on flights used by U.K. customers.”
The approval is not the final hurdle, but is an important milestone in Viasat’s quest to acquire the British-based satellite communications company.
The European Commission has launched its own investigation into the impact of the proposed merger on broadband services on airliners. It is expected to report on its findings by the end of June.
U.S. government approvals are also pending.
Viasat is a leading supplier of secure satellite communications and other services to the civil sector and various U.S. government departments, including the Pentagon.
In the U.K. the company is best known for data assurance and encryption services for government and defense.
Inmarsat provides satellite-based communications services to aviation, shipping and government agencies, including the U.K. Ministry of Defence.
Andrew Chuter is the United Kingdom correspondent for Defense News.