LONDON — Viasat has moved a significant step forward in its bid to acquire Inmarsat following the British government’s announcement that it has approved the acquisition of the mobile satellite communications company.
Jacob Rees-Mogg, the business and industrial strategy secretary recently appointed to the post by new Prime Minister Liz Truss, cleared the proposed $7.3 billion merger saying the deal did not pose a threat to British national security.
The U.S. communications giant launched its bid to acquire Inmarsat last November. The proposed merger has been awaiting the outcome of a government probe as to whether the deal should be approved under new legislation designed to block mergers that are contrary to the national interest.
That hurdle has now been cleared but the merger still has some approval hurdles to overcome.
The U.K. Competitions and Market Authority launched its own investigation Aug. 9 into whether the deal would lead to a substantial lessening of competition in the U.K. for goods or services.
The results of that probe are expected to be announced Oct 5.
“The deal requires a series of regulatory processes, which includes reviews by the Competition and Markets Authority and in the European Union. The CMA review is ongoing,” said a company spokesperson. “We are working closely with them as they conduct their review and will update the market in due course.”
Both companies already serve the British defense and security market and both are vying for a slice of the Ministry of Defence’s £6 billion ($6.9 billion) Skynet 6 satellite communications program, elements of which are already in competition.
Inmarsat is a provider of satellite-based communications services to aviation, shipping, and government departments, including the MoD.
Mark Dankberg, Viasat’s executive chairman and CEO said the merger would allow Viasat to deepen its commitment to the British market.
Viasat has pledged to increase job numbers and research spending in Britain if the deal goes ahead.
“Viasat has been a trusted partner of the U.K.’s defense and national security communities for more than a decade, including in the provision of its market-leading encryption products. The combined company, whose global international business headquarters will be situated in the U.K., will build upon the strong U.K. relationships that Viasat and Inmarsat already enjoy and allow us to deepen our contribution to the U.K.’s National Space Strategy,” Dankberg said in a statement.
If the deal goes ahead it will be the third major sale of British defense industrial capabilities to U.S. companies in a matter of months.
Parker Hannifin’s purchase of aerospace and defense company Meggitt and the sale of Ultra Electronics to the U.S.-owned Cobham Group have both been pushed through in the last few months.
Andrew Chuter is the United Kingdom correspondent for Defense News.