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posted by Fnord666 on Monday April 06 2020, @09:50AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the not-enough-space dept.

OneWeb goes bankrupt, lays off staff, will sell satellite-broadband business:

OneWeb has filed for bankruptcy and intends to sell its business, bringing an abrupt end to the company's plan to offer high-speed satellite Internet service around the world.

OneWeb announced Friday that it "voluntarily filed for relief under Chapter 11 of the [US] Bankruptcy Code," and "intends to use these proceedings to pursue a sale of its business in order to maximize the value of the company." OneWeb made the decision "after failing to secure new funding from investors including its biggest backer SoftBank," largely because of the coronavirus pandemic, the Financial Times wrote. OneWeb also "axed most of its staff on Friday," the FT article said.

OneWeb previously raised $3 billion over multiple rounds of financing and was seeking more money to fund its deployment and commercial launch. "Our current situation is a consequence of the economic impact of the COVID-19 crisis," OneWeb CEO Adrián Steckel said in the bankruptcy announcement. "We remain convinced of the social and economic value of our mission to connect everyone everywhere."

The bankruptcy announcement came a week after OneWeb said it expected "delays to our launch schedule and satellite manufacturing due to increasing travel restrictions and the disruption of supply chains globally."

[...] OneWeb had already launched 74 satellites and demonstrated broadband speeds of more than 400Mbps with latency of 32ms. The company was a key competitor to SpaceX's Starlink division, which has launched 362 satellites and plans to launch thousands more. The satellites of both OneWeb and SpaceX operate in low Earth orbits, allowing them to provide much lower latency than traditional geostationary satellites.

OneWeb at one point was ahead of SpaceX in the satellite race, having secured Federal Communications Commission approval in June 2017, before SpaceX did. OneWeb planned to serve the United States and global markets from "720 low-Earth orbit satellites using the Ka (20/30GHz) and Ku (11/14GHz) frequency bands," the FCC noted at the time.

OneWeb's bankruptcy announcement noted that it owns the rights to "valuable global spectrum," which may entice a buyer. OneWeb said it has also "begun development on a range of user terminals for a variety of customer markets, [and] has half of its 44 ground stations completed or in development." The current deployment of 74 satellites is "too small to offer telecoms services or generate revenues," the Financial Times wrote.


Original Submission

Related Stories

OneWeb Emerges from Bankruptcy, Set to Launch More Satellites in December 2020 7 comments

OneWeb exits bankruptcy and is ready to launch more broadband satellites

OneWeb has emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy under new ownership and says it will begin launching more broadband satellites next month. Similar to SpaceX Starlink, OneWeb is building a network of low-Earth-orbit (LEO) satellites that can provide high-speed broadband with much lower latencies than traditional geostationary satellites.

After a launch in December, "launches will continue throughout 2021 and 2022, and OneWeb is now on track to begin commercial connectivity services to the UK and the Arctic region in late 2021 and will expand to delivering global services in 2022," OneWeb said in an announcement Friday.

[...] OneWeb previously launched 74 satellites into low-Earth orbits and said it plans a launch of 36 more satellites on December 17, 2020. The Friday announcement also said OneWeb plans "a constellation of 650 LEO satellites," but that could be just the beginning. OneWeb in August secured US approval for 1,280 satellites in medium Earth orbits, bringing its total authorization to 2,000 satellites.

Previously: SpaceX Approved to Deploy 1 Million U.S. Starlink Terminals; OneWeb Reportedly Considers Bankruptcy
OneWeb Goes Bankrupt, Lays Off Staff, Will Sell Satellite-Broadband Business
OneWeb Seeks Permission to Launch 48,000 Satellites Despite Bankruptcy
UK Government and Indian Mobile Operator Acquire OneWeb and its Broadband Satellites


Original Submission

OneWeb Seeks Permission to Launch 48,000 Satellites Despite Bankruptcy 12 comments

Bankrupt OneWeb seeks license for 48,000 satellites, even more than SpaceX

SpaceX and OneWeb have asked for US permission to launch tens of thousands of additional satellites into low Earth orbit.

SpaceX's application to launch 30,000 satellites—in addition to the nearly 12,000 it already has permission for—is consistent with SpaceX's previously announced plans for Starlink.

OneWeb's application to launch nearly 48,000 satellites is surprising because the satellite-broadband company filed for bankruptcy in March. OneWeb is highly unlikely to launch a significant percentage of these satellites under its current structure, as the company reportedly "axed most of its staff" when it filed for bankruptcy and says it intends to use bankruptcy proceedings "to pursue a sale of its business in order to maximize the value of the company." Getting FCC approval to launch more satellites could improve the value of OneWeb's assets and give more options to whoever buys the company.

Previously:
SpaceX Approved to Deploy 1 Million U.S. Starlink Terminals; OneWeb Reportedly Considers Bankruptcy
OneWeb Goes Bankrupt, Lays Off Staff, Will Sell Satellite-Broadband Business


Original Submission

Richard Branson to Sell 22% Stake in Virgin Galactic 11 comments

Branson to sell part of Virgin Galactic stake

Richard Branson, the founder and largest shareholder of suborbital spaceflight company Virgin Galactic, will sell more than a fifth of Virgin Group's majority stake in the company to raise funds to aid its other companies affected by the pandemic.

In a statement May 11, the company announced that Vieco 10, the Virgin Group holding company that owns the majority of Virgin Galactic, planned to sell up to 25 million shares, accounting for about 22% of its overall stake in the company. That sale would generate $485 million for Virgin at the price of $19.40 per share at the close of trading May 11.

Virgin Group said the sale of stock, the company said in a statement and in its S-1 filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), was "to support its portfolio of global leisure, holiday and travel businesses that have been affected by the unprecedented impact of COVID-19."

Related: Virgin Galactic Shows Off its Spaceport
Virgin Galactic Unveils Commercial Space Suits
Virgin Galactic Begins 'Astronaut Readiness Program' for First Paying Customers
Nevada-Based Bigelow Aerospace Lays Off Entire Workforce
OneWeb Goes Bankrupt, Lays Off Staff, Will Sell Satellite-Broadband Business
Virgin Galactic's Spaceship Flies from its New Home Base for the First Time


Original Submission

UK Government and Indian Mobile Operator Acquire OneWeb and its Broadband Satellites 11 comments

British government and Bharti Global buy OneWeb, plan $1 billion investment to revive company

The British government and Indian mobile network operator Bharti Global placed the winning bid to acquire OneWeb, a broadband megaconstellation startup that filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in March after running out of funding, OneWeb said July 3.

OneWeb said it has secured $1 billion in new funding — $500 million from the British government to "deliver first UK sovereign space capability," and another $500 million from Indian mobile network operator Bharti Global — to recapitalize its constellation effort.

OneWeb, in a news release, said the funding will "effectuate the full end-to-end deployment of the OneWeb system," but did not specify if that system is the original 650-satellite constellation the company was pursuing prior to bankruptcy. OneWeb has 74 satellites in low Earth orbit.

"This deal underlines the scale of Britain's ambitions on the global stage," Alok Sharma, business secretary for the British government, said in a separate July 3 release from the U.K. Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. "Our access to a global fleet of satellites has the potential to connect millions of people worldwide to broadband, many for the first time, and the deal presents the opportunity to further develop our strong advanced manufacturing base right here in the UK."

UK looks to challenge Elon Musk's Starlink after winning bid for bankrupt satellite company OneWeb

The U.K. government is set to try and take on Elon Musk's Starlink after it was crowned the winning bidder of failed satellite company OneWeb at an auction in New York.

[...] The $1 billion-plus rescue bid was made through a consortium involving India's Bharti Global, which through Bharti Airtel, is the third-largest mobile operator in the world, with over 425 million customers.

[...] U.K. Business Secretary Alok Sharma confirmed the government has pledged to invest $500 million and take a "significant" equity share in OneWeb, which is headquartered in London. The stake is reported to be around 20%.

Previously: OneWeb Goes Bankrupt, Lays Off Staff, Will Sell Satellite-Broadband Business
OneWeb Seeks Permission to Launch 48,000 Satellites Despite Bankruptcy


Original Submission

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  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 06 2020, @11:04AM (4 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 06 2020, @11:04AM (#979604)

    Ok ok ok, let the execs' face-saving reason-finding begin.

    Current liabilities (according to article): 2.1 billion USD. Of which 1.7 billion belong to a single investor.

    Let's assume an average salary for all 531 employees in the company of 150.000 USD (costing the company approx 300.000, according to a rule of thumb that works for Germany) per year.
    Let's also assume that the pandemic would cause a complete cessation of work for a full year. No home office at all, nothing.
    That would be a cost of 159.3 million USD in salary. (yes, this is totally naive, so sue me)

    Now think for a while: you are a big-time investor, venture-capital, risky stuff. You have a choice of a) losing your 1.7billion b) investing *lots* more money to get your results or c) investing *lots* more money to get your results plus 160 million to ride out the pandemic

    Let's be honest: are 160million, the cost of the pandemic, going to be a problem? Even if that naive number were 3 times as high?

    I rather think that option b) looked totally unattainable, and that's why they stopped throwing good money after bad. The cost of the pandemic didn't come into play at all.

    But of course "The pandemic killed us" looks like a much better scapegoat than "We ran the company into the ground" or "Our plan didn't work out so well as we thought".

    And "Our main competitor is way ahead, and faster, and funded by a maniac" also didn't have a say at all in the venture capital's decision ...

    • (Score: 2) by esperto123 on Monday April 06 2020, @11:15AM (1 child)

      by esperto123 (4303) on Monday April 06 2020, @11:15AM (#979606)

      I think the investors decision is two fold, first, they probably saw the writing on the wall that they could not compete with starlink, too few satellites that cost too much to launch, second, to me, softbank is out of money, they put huge amounts on bad bats like wework and it is catching up to them.

      • (Score: 4, Interesting) by takyon on Monday April 06 2020, @12:17PM

        by takyon (881) <reversethis-{gro ... s} {ta} {noykat}> on Monday April 06 2020, @12:17PM (#979615) Journal

        Yup:

        SoftBank is letting internet satellite company OneWeb file for bankruptcy, a sign Masayoshi Son has learned lessons from WeWork [cnbc.com]

        The decision dovetails two other SoftBank decisions this month: backing away from a $3 billion WeWork tender offer [cnbc.com] and selling up to $41 billion in assets [cnbc.com], likely including some of its Alibaba shares [barrons.com], to shore up its balance sheet.

        [...] SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son’s reputation since the founding of the Vision Fund about three years ago [techcrunch.com] has been to push his investments to spend aggressively. He once told WeWork founder Adam Neumann that he wasn’t “crazy enough [cnbc.com]” with his expansion ideas.

        But SoftBank has drastically altered that strategy this year to ensure the company is in position to weather a global downturn. Vision Fund head Rajeev Misra told CNBC earlier this month [cnbc.com] he planned on dozens of the fund’s portfolio companies going public in the next 18 to 24 months. Those comments were made just before the huge market sell-off of the past three weeks, which have added significant doubt to when an IPO window will reopen. In the meantime, many private companies may be counting on SoftBank for additional funding to get them through a rocky first and second quarter.

        Before the pandemic, Gwynne Shotwell was absolutely trashing OneWeb in October:

        The SpaceX leader didn’t stop at a comparison, giving the opera house full of investors an ominous warning about backing OneWeb. “If you’re thinking about investing in OneWeb, I would recommend strongly against it. They fooled some people who are going to be pretty disappointed in the near term,” Shotwell said.

        --
        [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
    • (Score: 2) by driverless on Monday April 06 2020, @03:12PM (1 child)

      by driverless (4770) on Monday April 06 2020, @03:12PM (#979659)

      Covid19 is going to be 2020's universal excuse for everything, "it was all going fine until Covid19 came along, everything bad is Covid19's fault". From all the way at the top, "the US was running fine until Covid19 came along, everything bad is Covid19's fault" (Trump) to "my homework assignment was going fine until Covid19 came along, everything bad is Covid19's fault" (little Billy Bob Saunders, age 7), big or small, young or old, Covid19 is your get-out-of-jail-free card when you've screwed up.

      • (Score: 2) by DannyB on Monday April 06 2020, @04:38PM

        by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Monday April 06 2020, @04:38PM (#979691) Journal

        "my homework assignment was going fine until Covid19 came along, ..."

        That's true. The following excuse no longer works.

        Window 8 my homework.

        --
        You can not have fun on the weak days but you can on the weakened.
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 06 2020, @07:32PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 06 2020, @07:32PM (#979747)

    The birds in orbit are a liability if they get out of control and make space junk.

    Before taking the never let a good disaster go to waste, Covid parachute, do they need to provide funds to make sure this does not happen?

    The investor has a claim to take probably all they have, but the senior claim is to preserve the orbit.

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