Inmarsat shareholders approve takeover offer

Space

FREDERICKSBURG, Virginia — The majority of Inmarsat’s shareholders voted May 10 in favor of a $3.3 billion acquisition offer by a consortium of buyers.

Some 77 percent of London-based Inmarsat’s shareholders voted in favor of the takeover proposed by private equity firms Apax and Warburg Pincus and Canadian pension firms CPPIB and OTPP. Those shareholders held 79 percent of Inmarsat’s shares, meeting what Inmarsat called the “requisite majorities.”

Inmarsat expects the deal to close in the fourth quarter of 2019.

The deal marks a change of pace from last year when Inmarsat CEO Rupert Pearce said the company wasn’t for sale.

Inmarsat twice rejected offers from U.S. satellite operator EchoStar, saying the offers — the highest of which was 3.2 billion pounds ($4.25 billion at the time) — undervalued the company. French satellite operator Eutelsat flirted with the idea of making a bid for Inmarsat last June, but ultimately decided against it.

Analysts say the reason the consortium’s bid gained more traction is because of a higher per-share price and the all-cash nature of the offer.

“The consortium’s bid is higher ([by] $0.15 per share) compared to EchoStar’s bid from last year,” Siddharth Shihora, an associate for PwC’s Space Practice in France, said by email. “In addition, this is a cash bid, as opposed to EchoStar’s bid, which was cash plus equity.”

Damien Garot, managing partner at Jansky Partners, said by email that the consortium bid has a better chance of succeeding where EchoStar failed, citing the same reasons as PwC.

“It is an all-cash offer while Echostar’s offer was more than half of its own illiquid and sometimes volatile stock,” he said by email.

Garot said Apax’s involvement as a British company is also likely to benefit the consortium.

Apax and the other three consortium members formed a new company called Bidco Limited that is acquiring Inmarsat.

In a March 25 document, Bidco Limited said the four consortium members each owned 25 percent of the new company (then called Triton Bidco).

Bidco said it “believes that the satellite sector is attractive” and unique, with strong potential to serve growing demand for broadband connectivity.

“Triton Bidco believes that integrated satellite operators with scale like Inmarsat are well positioned as network provision becomes more complex,” the company said.

Bidco said it would keep Inmarsat’s headquarters in the United Kingdom.

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