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Inmarsat bidder asks for FCC approval as UK continues security review

Inmarsat HQ.jpg

The US is to follow the UK by examining the proposed $6 billion takeover of London-based Inmarsat.

Earlier this week Jeremy Wright, then the Cabinet minister in charge of digital and media affairs, asked the UK’s financial regulator, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), to report back by 17 September.

Wright, who left the government later the same day in new prime minister Boris Johnson’s reshuffle, cited national security grounds.

Now the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the US telecoms regulator, has received applications to approve the deal, under which a consortium of Apax Partners, Warburg Pincus, the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, want to buy Inmarsat.

The FCC hasn’t said it will be investigating the deal on any specific grounds. Indeed, the filing appears to be a relatively routine request for approval for the transfer of licences and authorisations for Inmarsat’s US-based subsidiaries. These are listed as Inmarsat Group Holdings Inc, Inmarsat Inc, ISAT US Inc and Inmarsat Solutions (US) Inc.

The bidders, which are operating through a Guernsey-based vehicle called Connect Bidco, also want approval for foreign investment in Inmarsat Group Holdings to be above the permitted maximum of 25%.

The FCC has asked for comments on the proposed dal by 26 August, with follow-ups by 10 September, a week before the UK CMA deadline.

The FCC filing reports a complex structure for Connect Bidco, which is a newly incorporated limited company under the laws of Guernsey. It has a set of intermediate holding companies also formed under the laws of Guernsey, but owned by a Luxembourg limited liability company, itself owned by limited partnerships and investment funds registered in the Cayman Islands and Canada.

By contrast, the current Inmarsat is a UK-based public limited company whose shares are quoted on the London Stock Exchange.