Inmarsat deal puts pressure on Kwasi: Business secretary urged to intervene in satellite firm’s £5.4bn takeover

Kwasi Kwarteng is facing calls to intervene in the £5.4billion takeover of British satellite specialist Inmarsat.

US rival Viasat has swooped on the London company just two years after it was sold to foreign private equity groups in a controversial £4.7billion deal.

Viasat already stated that it will keep Inmarsat headquarters in Britain, invest more money into British operations, and create new jobs to try to persuade regulators.

Life saving: Inmarsat's Sailor communications system is used in the Volvo Ocean Race (pictured)

The Volvo Ocean Race is life-saving: Inmarsat’s Sailor communication system was used (pictured).

Viasat briefly had Priti Patel as a paid advisor before she was appointed Home Secretary in 2019. However, the company has yet to say how long they intend to keep their promises.

Inmarsat’s current owners Apax and Warburg Pincus – alongside two Canadian pensions giants – made similar promises when they bought the firm in 2019.

The Mail has learned that officials from the UK are seeking to make stronger commitments in order to prevent intervention.

The Business Department stated that it was’monitoring deal talks closely’. However, critics are demanding that Business Secretary Kwarteng conduct a complete investigation in order to examine the agreement and determine whether there is any impact on national security.

SOS is the key to technology success 

Inmarsat International Maritime Organisation in 1979 founded it to aid distressed sailors sending SOS signals.

There are now 1,800 employees worldwide, with around 860 based at the London headquarters.

Inmarsat provides the most in-flight internet for airlines. The Volvo Ocean Race uses its Sailor communication system. 

The firm’s technology is also used to track climate change and connect rural farmers to the internet.

Inmarsat technology is innovative. It’s the leading provider of Internet connectivity to ships and airlines in the air, as well as the largest.

The company currently has 14 satellites orbiting the earth and is planning to launch an additional seven.

These items are recognized as essential national infrastructure.

Lord Sikka who is also a qualified accountant and professor at Sheffield University, stated that it was important to investigate the matter.

He declared that the Government must step in if they want to establish hi-tech firms. France and the US are both happy to intervene.

“I believe the problem with the government’s industrial strategy is the fact that it doesn’t have one. If it did, it would be creating champions. 

“Private equity firms don’t have long term interests and it’s a disaster for the country.”

After Apax and Warburg Pincus bought Inmarsat in 2019, Inmarsat was removed from the London Stock Exchange. Viasat will purchase Inmarsat from the private equity companies, which will hold more than three quarters of it.

However, the quick sale confirmed all the fears that had been raised by those opposed to the deal for 2019.

Mail received information from an industry source that Inmarsat was in discussions with the Government regarding the possibility of selling because it is an area so ready for business.

Rajeev Suri, chief executive of Inmarsat, stated that the company is in the “sweet spot” for the expected mergers frenzy. He also said it would likely have many dance partners.

Kwasi Kwarteng is facing calls to intervene in the £5.4bn takeover of British satellite specialist Inmarsat

Kwasi Kwarteng is facing calls to intervene in the £5.4bn takeover of British satellite specialist Inmarsat

Malcolm Macdonald from the University of Strathclyde is a space tech expert. 

“It’s striking that the UK doesn’t seem to have the ability to create the right business environment to allow such acquisitions in the other direction. It does appear that the transmission vector is very much through a private equity company.

In January more stringent legislation on foreign buyouts – the National Security and Investment Act – comes into force and will allow ministers to call in deals for companies that play a key role in Britain’s infrastructure and national security.

Inmarsat’s debate follows discussions into possible takeovers of Ultra Electronics and Meggitt, two other hi-tech companies.

Jonathan Sinnatt was a spokesperson of Inmarsat and stated: “The Inmarsat–Viasat combination will bring additional jobs and investment into the critical space sector.

According to a Government spokesperson, “While we are pleased with the commitments Viasat and Inmarsat have made to the UK in the beginning, the Government will monitor closely the acquisition plan.” 

“The Enterprise Act 2002 gives the Business Secretary powers to interfere in any acquisitions that raise concerns about public safety.