By Adam Clark
India's Bharti Global Ltd. has invested a further $500 million in OneWeb Global Ltd., backing its push to rival Elon Musk's Starlink in the provision of internet via satellites.
OneWeb said Tuesday that Bharti exercised a call option for the investment, raising its stake in the company to 38.6% on completion. The investment takes OneWeb's total current funding to $2.4 billion.
Bharti Global is an arm of Indian billionaire Sunil Mittal's corporate empire. Mr. Mittal teamed up with the British government to invest $1 billion in OneWeb in late 2020 to rescue it from bankruptcy. The U.K. is set to have a 19.3% stake in OneWeb after the latest investment, equal to fellow backers SoftBank Group Corp. and France's Eutelsat Communications.
OneWeb is planning a low-Earth-orbit network of 648 satellites and aims to be able to provide wholesale services to much of the northern hemisphere before the end of the year and globally next year. The rival Starlink project--owned by Mr. Musk's Space Exploration Technologies Corp.--has more than 1,500 satellites in orbit. Mr. Musk has talked about potentially taking Starlink public when revenue has become predictable, as it seeks to compete with traditional internet providers.
OneWeb Chief Executive Neil Masterson said Tuesday that the company had a significantly lower entry cost than rival projects, having benefited from $3.4 billion of investment before it filed for bankruptcy protection in March last year.
The company said it is now fully funded with the Bharti investment, which is set to complete in the second half of 2021.
Starlink and OneWeb are the most advanced LEO projects globally. A rival project by Amazon.com Inc., named Project Kuiper, is yet to launch any spacecraft. The European Union and China are working on plans for their own satellite constellations.
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(END) Dow Jones Newswires
June 29, 2021 11:41 ET (15:41 GMT)Copyright (c) 2021 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.