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OneWeb paid nearly $50 million in investor fees for bankruptcy transactions

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OneWeb paid US$49.3 million in fees to bankers, lawyers, and other consultants representing its original shareholders as part of a US$1 billion transaction that the British government and India’s Bharti Global rescued the satellite internet company from bankruptcy last year .

The disclosure comes from the audited accounts released on Tuesday. The accounts stated that the sale agreement “required the company to fund the sale expenses of the former shareholders of OneWeb Communications.”

According to people familiar with the matter, although the consultant was not named, the Guggenheim Partnership, New York Investment Bank, and the American Milbank Law Firm have all provided investors with advice on the transaction.

The shareholders disclosed in the bankruptcy filing include Airbus, Hughes Network Systems, subsidiaries of EchoStar, Intelsat, Qualcomm, Virgin Group and SoftBank.

The annual report also showed that OneWeb incurred an operating loss of $58.3 million in the 12 months to the end of March. No comparison with the previous year is provided.

For investors who got OneWeb out of bankruptcy, what is even more gratifying is that compared with the bankruptcy price, the fair value of the group’s assets has increased by $430.4 million.

OneWeb was founded nearly ten years ago and was a pioneer in space-based Internet services, but encountered difficulties after several delays, prompting its largest shareholder SoftBank to withhold $2 billion in new funds to develop its satellite constellation. The group entered Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the United States in March last year.

However, since the United Kingdom and Bharti rescued US$1 billion, the company has received US$2.7 billion in funding from investors such as Eurosat, European satellite operators, Hanwha, South Korean conglomerates, and even SoftBank. It is estimated that the recent rounds of financing have valued OneWeb at more than $3 billion.

The group has 358 satellites in orbit and intends to launch limited commercial services this year. It is expected to launch and operate a complete global service by the end of 2022, when it will launch all 650 planned low-orbit satellites. OneWeb’s goal is to exceed $1 billion in annual revenue within five years of full deployment.

However, OneWeb is facing fierce competition from Elon Musk’s SpaceX, which launched more than 53 satellites to its Starlink constellation this weekend, bringing the total number of satellites in orbit to nearly 2,000.

OneWeb CEO Neil Masterson said that the company’s space Internet service approach is different from SpaceX, noting that it provides additional capacity for existing service providers instead of directly targeting customers.

“The number of satellites does not equal progress,” Masterson said. “Our approach is to cooperate with the existing ecosystem. I am confident in our competitiveness. As long as we have been very focused on meeting the needs of our customers, these things will resolve themselves.”

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