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Viasat and Inmarsat Receive Approval for Proposed Combination from Australia’s Foreign Investment Review Board

By Doug Messier
Parabolic Arc
October 21, 2022

The Australian Government’s Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) has cleared Viasat’s planned acquisition of Inmarsat.

“We’re delighted to secure approval from the Australian Government. The combined business will have the scale, deep engineering capabilities and scope to deliver leading technology and services for our customers in Australia and across the globe,” said Viasat CEO and Executive Chairman Mark Dankberg. “Australia is well advanced as a space-faring nation and we are excited about the significant opportunities to support the growth of the Australian space sector, given the increased resources, unity of purpose and broader coverage the joint entity will have.”

FIRB cleared the acquisition under the Foreign Acquisitions and Takeovers Act 1975. The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States gave regulatory approval to the deal over the summer.

“Approval by Australia’s Foreign Investment Review Board is a welcome further endorsement of the sound competitive logic behind the transaction,” Inmarsat CEO Rajeev Suri. “Australia is an international market that is key to global advances and innovation in mobility. Their approval brings us one step closer to being even better placed to invest in the technologies required to compete in a fast-changing global satellite communications market undergoing profound changes.”

The UK government has cleared the proposed transaction under the National Security and Investment Act. However, the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has raised concerns that the deal would remove key competition from the market.

“The CMA is concerned that the loss of competition brought about by the deal could have an adverse impact on UK businesses and consumers: airlines could face higher prices and be offered lower quality connectivity solutions, ultimately affecting the cost, quality and availability of services for airline passengers,” the authority said in a press release.

The companies disagree, saying the acquisition will improve service.

“Our market success to date has been driven by applying innovative technologies to increase IFC speeds, reliability, and affordability. Our investments in the ViaSat-3 constellation and the Inmarsat transaction are intended to help us make these services more available globally. Industry analysts anticipate that an already highly competitive IFC market will become even more competitive with the entrance of new, heavily financed LEO competitors. We believe that a comprehensive Phase 2 analysis will support that our transaction will benefit the nascent, but rapidly growing IFC services available to airline passengers,” Dankberg said.

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