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Satellite comms company OneWeb onboards South Korean investor

United Kingdom satellite internet services company OneWeb has received a USD 300 million investment from a South Korean investor. Paul Hastings acted as legal counsel to South Korean smart technologies company Hanwha Systems, a company founded by Samsung Electronics, on its investment in OneWeb, which will result in the acquisition of an 8.8% interest and a seat on OneWeb’s board. OneWeb took legal advice from Herbert Smith Freehills on the transaction.

Following its investment, Korea Stock Exchange-listed Hanwha Systems will join OneWeb’s existing and prospective investors, which include the UK government and Bharti Global, a telecommunications operator which plugged a further USD 500 million into OneWeb in June. Eutelsat, a French satellite operator, and Tokyo Stock Exchange-listed conglomerate Softbank are also investors in OneWeb.

Solutions in defence electronics and information infrastructure are some of the services offered Hanwha Systems, which operates under Seoul-headquartered business conglomerate Hanwha Group. Through its investment into OneWeb, Hanwha Systems hopes to strengthen its satellite communications offering, as well as enhance its space business. OneWeb, which holds its headquarters in London, provides its communications services from Space, serving governments, corporations and communities.

The company has a fleet of over 600 satellites which has received full financial backing, and to date it has launched 254 into orbit in space. “These are exciting and fast paced times in the space sector” explained Bharti Enterprises’ founder and chair Sunil Bharti Mittal in a statement, adding: “With Hanwha alongside, we will be able to access the highest quality of technological thinking and development.”

UK Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng also commented on the investment: “Today’s USD 300 million investment in OneWeb by Hanwha is the latest in a series of votes of confidence in the company from the market.” Kwarteng also highlighted that the UK government’s “equity stake in OneWeb not only allows the UK to capitalise on our first-mover advantage to deploy low Earth orbit technology but will put our country at the forefront of the small satellite market, which is set to rapidly expand over the years ahead”.

Paul Hastings’ advisory team was headed up by Seoul partner Iksoo Kim and London partner Garrett Hayes, who were assisted by two London associates, Sam Waite and Catherine Kennedy, as well as Seoul partner Dong Chul Kim and Seoul associate Sye Myung Kim.

The UK’s largest satellite company Inmarsat was by a group of major private equity firms, in a deal worth USD 3.4 billion, in 2019. Indonesia for its first ever telecommunication satellite public-private partnership project, enabling access to remote areas of the country, in March this year. ICLG

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