June 1, 2017 / 6:42 PM / a year ago

OneWeb open to other acquisitions after Intelsat merger tanks

(Reuters) - Satellite builder OneWeb Ltd will look for other acquisitions or partnerships after a proposed takeover of Intelsat SA (I.N) fell through, OneWeb founder and Executive Chairman Greg Wyler said on Thursday.

OneWeb is among a handful of startups planning to build, launch and operate thousands of small satellites to provide internet access worldwide and received a $1 billion investment from Japan’s SoftBank Group Corp (9984.T) late last year.

“SoftBank has demonstrated an appetite, and where it makes sense we will do something but it’s not necessary at all,” said Wyler.

“We have a great partner who has an interest in anything that will accelerate growth and that will be accretive and valuable and so if those opportunities come about we will have the capability of moving on them,” he said.

OneWeb’s proposed acquisition of Intelsat, which operates one of the world’s largest fleet of communication satellites, was called off on Thursday after bondholders of the debt-laden Intelsat were unable to agree on the share-for-share deal, which was proffered in March.

“We have shut down the merger process,” Wyler said. “Intelsat was purely opportunistic. It was there, we get along well, there’s a lot of accretive synergies and they were in a position where they really could have benefited it as well.”

SoftBank would have bought voting and non-voting shares in the combined company for $1.7 billion in cash and taken a 39.9 percent voting stake.

Intelsat was an initial investor in OneWeb and took a minority equity stake in 2015.

“It was purely the bondholders,” Wyler said when asked why the deal fell through. “They couldn’t organize themselves and they’re only answer was more. I think people overestimated SoftBank’s willingness to go to an infinite press. They had a great deal.”

The failed merger will have “zero effect internally” on OneWeb, Wyler added.

“OneWeb has remained highly focused on building the world’s largest constellation of satellites,” he said.

Elon Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies Corp is also working on an internet-via-satellite network that would eventually include more than 4,000 satellites.

Reporting by Irene Klotz in Cape Canaveral, Florida; Editing by Lisa Shumaker

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