Viasat acquisition of Inmarsat wins final EC approval

With the European Commission’s unconditional approval, Viasat’s acquisition of Inmarsat is now set to close by the end of this month.

The EC’s approval follows that of the U.S. FCC’s endorsement on May 19 and clearance by the U.K. Competition & Market Authority (CMA) on May 9.

In a statement, the EC said it concluded the transaction would raise no competition concerns in the European market or any substantial part of it and cleared the case unconditionally.

“In-flight internet connectivity on commercial flights is set to become more and more common in Europe,” said Margrethe Vestager, EVP in charge of competition policy at the European Commission, in a statement. “Our in-depth investigation has shown that Viasat's plan to buy rival satellite operator Inmarsat will not have a negative impact on the competitive landscape for this service. Our extensive market investigation confirmed that sufficient choice among several credible providers will remain available for airlines to offer their passengers.”

Last year, the CMA was concerned the deal could lead to airlines facing higher prices, worse quality for on-board Wi-Fi, and that the deal would remove a key competitor from the market.

But the U.K. watchdog concluded in May that while Viasat and Inmarsat compete closely, specifically for in-flight Wi-Fi, the deal doesn’t substantially reduce competition for services provided on flights used by U.K. customers.

SpaceNews noted that the transaction was worth $7.3 billion in a mix of cash, debt and Viasat shares when it was announced November 2021 but it’s now worth around $5.8 billion after a stock decline.

On Friday, Inmarsat announced that Rajeev Suri, a longtime Nokia executive and former CEO, will leave his position as chief executive upon completion of the sale to Viasat. Both Suri and Inmarsat Chairman Andrew Sukawaty will join the board of Viasat.