Leading international law firm Herbert Smith Freehills has advised OneWeb, a low earth orbit (LEO) broadband satellite communications company, backed by the Bharti group, the UK Government, SoftBank and Hanwha Systems, on reaching successful completion of its all-share combination with Eutelsat Communications, a listed French satellite and telecommunications company. This combination forms the Eutelsat Group.
OneWeb will be a subsidiary operating commercially as Eutelsat OneWeb and remain headquartered in the UK. Eutelsat will continue to be headquartered in France and listed on Euronext Paris and has applied for standard listing on the London Stock Exchange. Admission of the Eutelsat Group to the London Stock Exchange is expected to take place on 29 September 2023.*
The newly formed Eutelsat Group is strategically positioned as to be a global leader in space communications. Eutelsat’s powerful GEO fleet will combine network density and high throughput with the low latency and ubiquity of OneWeb’s LEO constellation to offer customers global, fully integrated connectivity services.
The OneWeb legal team was led by Nadia Hoosen (Chief Legal Officer & Group Company Secretary), Sameer Karimbhai (Group and Corporate Divisional General Counsel), and Jason Dunn (VP, Divisional General Counsel).
The Herbert Smith Freehills team was led by OneWeb relationship partner Alan Montgomery, Head of Global M&A Gavin Davies, corporate partners Siddhartha Shukla in London and Hubert Segain in Paris, together with partners Michael Jacobs (Corporate / ECM), Veronica Roberts (Regulatory), David Coulling (TMT) and Emma Stones. They were assisted by associates Yohann Smadja, Sarah Ries-Coward and Anna Le Poidevin.
The wider team included Paul Ellerman, Emma Rohsler, Isaac Zailer, Bruno Knadjian, Dominic Rowe, Cassie Ayre, Stephanie Notice, Ananya Bajpai, Niall Crean, Chris White, Hugues Colombani, Max Kaufman, Thomas Aulibé Asmita Singhvi, Arijeet Mukherjee, Leshandra Mandlate, and Agostino Bignardi.
Nadia Hoosen commented: "Our respective legal teams have worked hand in hand on highly complex global transactions, investments and joint ventures over the last couple of years and I am delighted to say we have created a fantastic partnership. It is an exciting time for OneWeb and the pace of delivery has been incredible. It has been absolutely integral to have the HSF team working alongside OneWeb’s legal team, and it has truly felt like one team.”
Alan Montgomery commented: "It has been a pleasure to work with our client all the way through to completion of this deal. The newly formed Eutelsat Group truly has the potential to be a global leader uniquely positioned to capture the connectivity market with a complementary GEO / LEO offering. The transaction required support from a wide range of practice areas and offices across the firm."
Siddhartha Shukla commented: "It has been incredible working on this complicated, unprecedented cross-border deal. It has been a journey, from the original acquisition of OneWeb in 2020 by the UK Government and the Bharti group and to the multiple investments and joint ventures, and then to this transformative combination. We are delighted to have been part of this journey, and wish the newly formed Eutelsat Group the very best."
Herbert Smith Freehills had also advised Bharti and its consortium with the UK Government on the acquisition of OneWeb (see here), and advised OneWeb on investments by SoftBank and Hughes (see here), Eutelsat (see here), and Hanwha (see here).
*on 2 October Eutelsat Group marked its official admission to the Standard Segment of the Official List of the Financial Conduct Authority and its trading on the Main Market for listed securities of the London Stock Exchange. Partner Michael Jacobs and senior associate Sarah Ries-Coward led on the advice for the admission, with assistance from associates Stephanie Notice, Jen Yong and Cassie Ayre. More details on its admission can be viewed here.