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Buyer of satellite business Inmarsat to be ordered to protect British jobs

The US buyer of British satellite business Inmarsat will be ordered to protect jobs and research as ministers step up scrutiny of the $7.3bn (£5.5bn) deal.

Viasat will be asked by the Business Department to make legally binding pledges to support Inmarsat’s British operations and continue its national security work, sources said.

The American operator confirmed plans to buy Inmarsat earlier this month, in a tie-up that will give it control of a fleet of 19 high and medium-orbit satellites providing connectivity services to airlines, ships and military customers.

Inmarsat provides communications services to the Ministry of Defence and has a close relationship with the armed forces.

The Government also has the option to call in the deal under the National Security and Investment act, which comes into force in January and gives officials greater powers to block takeovers.

An industry source said: “They want to be able to look back in two years and see the UK has not lost a whole load of jobs.”

California headquartered Viasat said it is willing to cooperate with the UK government and committed to continuing security pledges made when Inmarsat was acquired by US hedge funds two years ago.

A Government spokesman said: “While we welcome the initial commitments both Inmarsat and Viasat are making to the UK, the Government will continue to monitor the proposed acquisition closely.

“The Business Secretary has powers under the Enterprise Act 2002 to intervene in acquisitions which raise public interest concerns.

“The Government recently strengthened those powers through the National Security and Investment Act, which commences on 4 January 2022.”

Inmarsat was founded 40 years ago to provide secure communications for shipping and was listed on the FTSE 100 before being taken private by Apax, Warberg Pincus and two Canadian pension funds in 2019.

A Viasat spokesman pointed to comments made when the companies announced the deal. At the time, the company said it planned to build on Inmarsat’s UK presence, bringing high-skilled jobs and advanced space technologies to Britain.

The Telegraph reported earlier this month that Viasat had also offered to create an international headquarters in London. Talks are expected to continue for several months. Telegraph

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