Broadband satellite provider OneWeb revealed on January 15 that SoftBank, as well as Hughes Network Systems, have raised $400 million, helping the firm to begin deploying the constellation. The latest round involves SoftBank, which was the major shareholder of OneWeb until it applied for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2020, for $350 million. The rest is from Hughes Network Systems that reported that $50 million will be invested in the restructured business last year. The businesses did not reveal the new scale of SoftBank’s interest in the firm, but OneWeb reported that it would get a Japanese firm’s board seat.
According to an October notice from the Federal Communications Commission, SoftBank controlled 12.3 percent of the corporation at the time, despite holding 37.41 percent before the Chapter 11 filing. The same FCC note said that Hughes’ proposed investment was still being completed, but that the capital investment would not have a “significant impact” on the ownership of OneWeb, with a 2.6 percent stake owned by Hughes. At the time, the British government and the Indian telecommunications firm Bharti Global purchased OneWeb for $1 billion, each controlled 42.2% of the firm. The investment will help to sustain the organization as an original constellation of 648 satellites progresses to be launched.
“Since recovering from Chapter 11 in the month of November, we have achieved rapid progress towards restarting the company,” stated Neil Masterson, CEO of OneWeb, in a release. “We acknowledge SoftBank’s as well as Hughes’ capital investments as further evidence of progress in achieving our target.” OneWeb said the financing “places the firm to be adequately paid for the first-generation satellite network.” Still, the $400 million by itself is inadequate to finance the company scheduled to be finished by mid-2022, via full operation of the constellation. Sunil Bharti Mittal, Bharti Enterprises founder and chairman and OneWeb executive chairman stated he estimated last month that OneWeb would require $2.5 billion to finish the constellation; only half of it had been collected. This means that the business still needs to collect around $1 billion.
Bharti Mittal, however, was optimistic about securing the extra funding. “I don’t really see any problem with raising funds for this great project for the remaining balance,” he added, adding that over the last 18-24 months for other ventures, Bharti Enterprises had earned over $12 billion. Last month, OneWeb reported they planned releases to finish the constellation on an approximately monthly schedule, with just enough satellites in orbit by the fall of the year 2021 to allow the operation to commence at latitudes over 50 degrees north. If the full constellation is in space, the global operation will start in 2022. OneWeb resumed the constellation flights, with the flight of 36 satellites on the Soyuz rocket, stopped by Chapter 11 filing on December 18. The firm has not announced a date for its next update.