July 18, 2019 / 3:12 PM / 4 months ago

Inmarsat bidders make investment pledges after talks with UK government

LONDON (Reuters) - The private-equity led team seeking to buy Britain’s largest satellite company Inmarsat (ISA.L) has pledged to keep key operations in the United Kingdom and invest in the business as part of the deal, following talks with the government.

The takeover of Inmarsat is expected to be closely scrutinised by politicians in Westminster and regulators as the satellite company is seen as a strategic asset.

Founded in 1979, it was set up by the International Maritime Organization as a way for ships to communicate with those back on shore and make emergency calls. With a market value of 2.6 billion pounds, it now sees a growing opportunity to supply in-flight broadband services to commercial aircraft.

It agreed in March to be bought by a group of buyout funds including British-based Apax Partners, U.S.-based Warburg Pincus and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB) for $3.4 billion.

The bidding team, also supported by the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board, is looking to take the company private and try to revive growth to make a profit.

The consortium, called Connect, said on Thursday it had voluntarily agreed legally-binding undertakings with the government regarding the British operations of the business.

Key strategic decisions for the consortium and Inmarsat will be taken in Britain, global network operations centres identified as important by the government will remain in Britain, and the skilled engineering base will remain in place.

Investment promises for capital expenditure and supply chain maintenance, deemed by the government to be important, will also be upheld.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said on Tuesday it was looking into whether the proposed acquisition would affect the competitive landscape.

Reporting by Kate Holton

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