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OneWeb takes $230 million hit after Russia seized its satellites

British satellite startup OneWeb Ltd. took a $229 million writedown after Russia scuppered its launch plans and took 36 of its spacecraft hostage indefinitely earlier this year.

The impairment came after OneWeb canceled a launch in March at a Kremlin-controlled launchpad in Kazakhstan, after refusing Russia’s demand for Britain to sell its stake in the company. That postponed a series of planned launches, incurred an insurance cost, and left the satellites in Russia’s hands, OneWeb said in accounts published late Thursday.

The London-based company is part owned by the British government alongside other investors including Indian telecom group Bharti, Softbank Group Corp and French satellite operator Eutelsat SA, which agreed to merge with OneWeb in July.

The $3.4 billion combination between the two firms will create a European satellite operator that can compete with projects from the likes of Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos to blanket the earth in a new kind of low-earth orbit or “LEO” broadband.

OneWeb’s net loss for the year ending March 31 was $390 million, with revenue of just $9.6 million. The company said it has total committed orders of “more than $300 million.” Bloomberg

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