OneWeb wins $300m investment from Korean group Hanwha
Hanwha Systems, a South Korean electronics and military equipment company, has become the latest investor in OneWeb, the satellite operator.
Hanwha is investing US$300 million for an 8.8% share in UK-based OneWeb, joining India’s Bharti Enterprises, the bigget investor, plus Eutelsat, Hughes Network Group, SoftBank and the UK government.
OneWeb executive chairman Sunil Bharti Mittal, who is also chairman of Bharti Enterprises, said: “With Hanwha alongside, we will be able to access the highest quality of technological thinking and development. They are a powerful partner in our global mission to connect the world.”
OneWeb has already launched 254 of its low Earth orbit (LEO) satellites, mostly made in a purpose-built factory in Florida (pictured). It plans to launch a further 34 satellites on 20 August.
The total fleet in phase one will be 648, due to be complete in 2022, but the company already has enough in orbit to launch services between 50° north latitude and the north pole by the end of 2021.
This is not Hanwha’s first investment in UK-based space technology. In June 2020 it bought Phasor Solutions, a bankrupt UK company that had been developing antennas for satellite users.
Hanwha Phasor, as that unit is now called, has since set up a lab in Cambridge, UK to develop antennas. The company says it can build flat antennas that are only 25mm thick and do not need to be steered to point at satellites.
Hanwha Systems president and CEO Youn Chul Kim said: “We are pleased to join hands with OneWeb, which has strength in the LEO communication area, the core of space business. To OneWeb’s vision of connecting all the people across the globe, Hanwha Systems’ satellite and antenna technology will bring more advantages.” Hanwha will appoint a board director to OneWeb once the investment is complete.
OneWeb CEO Neil Masterson welcomed the investment: “Hanwha brings advanced defence and antenna technology development to the OneWeb line-up,” he said.
“We are all delighted that they have chosen to join us on this journey of innovation, shaping a global service to connect the most remote locations and to provide a critical digital pathway from space to our interconnected world.”
This investment brings OneWeb’s total equity investment since the company was rescued from bankruptcy protection in November 2020 by Bharti and the UK government to $2.7 billion with no debt. Satellite construction and launch costs were paid for by the former OneWeb company before it went into restructuring.
The Hanwha investment values OneWeb at $3.4 billion.