Ligado reportedly mulling financial options ahead of 5G build-out

5G (Flickr user Kārlis Dambrāns)
Ligado aims to develop a satellite network that also incorporates terrestrial towers to serve the IoT market with 5G services.

Ligado Networks is reportedly working with two investment banks as it considers  strategic options in advance of building out a 5G network.

The company, which rebranded from Lightsquared after emerging from bankruptcy, has hired Goldman Sachs Group and PJT Partners to examine a search for a new equity investment through a private placement or other options, according to a Reuters report. Reuters cited unnamed “people familiar with the matter,” noting they asked not to be identified because the discussions are not public.

Reuters said one option for Ligado may be a potential sale, although it's unclear whether that's the case.

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"Ligado is focused on building a first-of-its-kind advanced satellite-terrestrial network to serve the emerging industrial IoT space," a Ligado spokesperson told FierceWireless via email. "An important component of executing this plan will be identifying strategic partners that are willing to invest private capital to accelerate the delivery of this network for the American public.”

Lightsquared launched in 2010 with the goal of building a wholesale nationwide LTE network that customers could use to provide their own wireless services. It inked roughly three dozen customers before the FCC revoked its conditional license to operate in the L-band, citing unresolved concerns over interference and forcing Lightsquared into bankruptcy. Those concerns have since been resolved, although the company is awaiting FCC approval to put a portion of its airwaves to use.

Ligado last May pushed ahead with its plan to build a 5G network, requesting that the FCC bar the terrestrial use of a 10 MHz block of airwaves near GPS frequencies and vowing to use power levels that defer to existing standards for airline safety and performance. Among other things, Ligado wants the 10 MHz block near the GPS frequencies to be set aside for satellite use only, and it is lobbying for a government-conducted "single national auction" for spectrum adjacent to its upper band.

Ligado aims to develop a satellite network that also incorporates terrestrial towers to serve the IoT market with 5G services. So the company is exploring options to finance its ambitious plans.

Financial advisers estimated Ligado’s spectrum was worth between $4.5 billion and $6.8 billion during the company’s bankruptcy, Reuters reported, and that figure has almost surely increased since then. Carriers are increasingly looking to mid- and high-band spectrum as a way to densify their networks and increase capacity as mobile data consumption ramps up.

Reuters noted, however, that Ligado’s junior debt “has recently been trading well below face value,” which could reflect investors’ concerns about the company’s ability to fully meet its financial obligations.

*This report was updated March 14 to include comment from Ligado.

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