Viasat’s proposed $7.3 billion merger with satellite communications provider Inmarsat has received unconditional clearance from the United Kingdom’s Competition & Markets Authority after the regulator completed its Phase II review, the satellite operator announced Tuesday.
The CMA in October 2022 decided further scrutiny was needed after its initial investigation due to concerns that the merger of two inflight connectivity (IFC) providers could lead to a loss of competition and, consequentially, higher IFC prices for airlines, according to a statement from the CMA.
The clearance removes one hurdle on the road for Carlsbad, Calif.-based Viasat (NASDAQ: VSAT) to complete its acquisition of London-based Inmarsat, which was announced in November 2021.
Before finalization, three additional regulatory actions must be completed, Deb Green, vice president of external communications at Viasat, told Connectivity Business News:
- The European Commission must complete its Phase II investigation, with a decision expected by June 29;
- The U.S. Department of Justice must complete its antitrust regulatory review; and
- The Federal Communications Commission must review the transaction.
Merger could support new market for Inmarsat, says analyst
Inmarsat also on Tuesday announced a partnership with Washington-based mobility service provider Supernal in which Supernal will connect its electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) vehicles to Inmarsat’s satellite-enabled Velaris network.
Supernal is part of the Hyundai Motor Group (OTCMKTS: HYMTF), which Inmarsat has collaborated with in the past for maritime connectivity.
The service is already available as communications links between eVTOLs and ground stations for command and control of the vehicles and Inmarsat is working on expanding Velaris’ service offerings, an Inmarsat spokesperson told CBN. Inmarsat has a terminal that will be available in a few weeks that will enable services such as long-term evolution and onboard system processing, the spokesperson said.
The advanced air mobility (AAM) market is still developing, but has the potential for significant growth, David Oni, research analyst at Northern Sky Research, told CBN.
“Given the influx of investment and interests by industry players and government organizations in the last couple of years, AAM is bound to be a large market in the future,” Oni said. “At a time when the Inmarsat/Viasat merger recently cleared regulatory approvals and the industry as a whole is looking for greenfield opportunities, these types of emerging use cases are going to increase.”
Northern Sky did not provide market projections for eVTOL satcom services, but the research firm is looking out for crossover opportunities for existing services such as IFC and maritime connectivity, Oni said.
A separate partnership with Canadian drone and unmanned aerial vehicle manufacturer Volatus Aerospace, in which Volatus’ aircraft will receive Inmarsat’s Velaris network, was announced on Wednesday.