OneWeb Remains a Private Company as Partnership With SpaceX Progresses

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Mar. 21 2022, Published 3:13 p.m. ET

Elon Musk’s SpaceX isn’t the only interstellar internet provider on the industry’s front lines. U.K. competitor OneWeb is a part of the mix, too. Now, the pair are partnering to launch OneWeb internet from space after the company’s previous launch partner, Russian government space organization Roscosmos, shut down OneWeb’s operations.

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Upon news of the partnership, international investors want to know if there’s an investment opportunity in OneWeb. Is OneWeb publicly traded? Here’s what to know.

Roscosmos slammed OneWeb with unmeetable demands.

OneWeb previously partnered with Roscosmos, a Russian state launch partner, to help it launch its internet satellites into space. Since the Russian war on Ukraine began and global sanctions for and from Russia came into play, expectations between the partners shifted.

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Roscosmos head Dmitry Rogozin posted a video on Twitter outlining demands for OneWeb. Speaking in Russian, Rogozin demanded OneWeb not use satellites for military purposes. It also required the British government to sell its stake in OneWeb. The U.K. currently owns a 19-percent stake in OneWeb, an investment that began as a 33-percent stake after the company emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy in November 2020.

OneWeb failed to meet the demands and its launch shuttered. Now, a new partnership is poised to revive the OneWeb project.

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OneWeb and SpaceX are partnering to launch internet from space.

SpaceX will now partner with OneWeb to revive the launch of its satellites. OneWeb’s project is akin to SpaceX’s own Starlink, and both hope to provide internet access to people across Earth. While OneWeb has already launched 428 of its 648-satellite mesh with the help of Russia, SpaceX will serve as the launch partner for its remaining 220 satellites.

OneWeb CEO Neil Masterson said in a statement, “With these launch plans in place, we’re on track to finish building out our full fleet of satellites and deliver robust, fast, secure connectivity around the globe.”

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Who owns OneWeb?

OneWeb owners include:

  • Bharti Global (44.2 percent stake)

  • U.K. government (19 percent stake)

The major investors in OneWeb include:

  • Eutelsat

  • SoftBank

  • Hanwha

  • Hughes Network Systems

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OneWeb is owned by companies with foreign public stock.

OneWeb isn't a public company, but one of its owners does have public stock outside the U.S.

Majority owner Bharti Global is a New Dheli-based company that trades on the National Stock Exchange of India. For Bharti, the OneWeb investment is a tiny fraction of a larger $4.08 trillion market capitalization for the BHARTIARTL ticker. That means any major investment in Bharti only sends a hiccup to OneWeb.

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OneWeb hasn't talked about going public, especially since the company has only been out of bankruptcy for less than two years. At the time of its emergence in July 2020, OneWeb had $1 billion of equity to propel its satellite internet mission. Now, even its satellite competitors are stepping in to help the company make its mark in low Earth orbit.

Unlike SpaceX, OneWeb doesn’t want to provide internet for individuals. Since the company hopes to sign government contracts across the globe, splitting from Russia was probably a good idea.

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