SoftBank-Backed OneWeb Set to Merge With Rival Satellite Operator


Masayoshi Son, the chief executive of SoftBank, spoke at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona on Monday.

Lluis Gene/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The chief executive of SoftBank, Masayoshi Son, is an inveterate deal maker. And on Tuesday, the Japanese mogul unveiled his latest: a complex merger to expand his telecommunications empire.

By orchestrating the merger of OneWeb, a satellite operator where Mr. Son has already invested $1 billion, with a debt-laden competitor, Intelsat, the billionaire is hoping to bolster SoftBank’s reach and internet coverage.

But the deal is still contingent on getting Intelsat’s bondholders to effectively take close to a significant haircut on their holdings, to help give the satellite operator some breathing room from its debt load of about $14 billion.

Under the terms of the deal, OneWeb will merge with the publicly traded Intelsat in an all-stock deal. SoftBank will invest $1.7 billion to acquire a 39.9 percent stake in the combined company, at about $5 a share for common stock.

Adding satellites could help SoftBank and its holdings, including Sprint in the United States, improve their high-speed internet capabilities. Mr. Son’s vehicle for his satellite efforts is OneWeb — the latest venture by the entrepreneur Greg Wyler — which has a stated goal of providing lower-cost internet access worldwide within the next decade.

Fusing it with Intelsat, a five-decade-old satellite operator, is meant to help OneWeb expand its services. The two companies contend that together, they would be able to provide more high-speed internet access for homes and businesses, in cars and in other locations.

“We are in the midst of a technological revolution and, provided we receive the necessary cooperation from Intelsat bondholders, we welcome the opportunity to support OneWeb as…

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