UK watchdog to scrutinize Viasat takeover of Inmarsat

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LONDON, Oct 14 (Reuters) – Britain’s competition regulator has referred Viasat’s $7.3 billion takeover of satellite rival Inmarsat for further investigation, it said on Friday. raising the possibility of a postponement of the agreement.

The proposed takeover of the UK company by US-based Viasat was announced late last year and was due to close in the second half of this year, but the Competition and Markets Authority ( CMA) has 24 weeks to complete its investigation.

The CMA is concerned that the merger could hinder competition in the airline connectivity market, which would force airlines to face higher prices for on-board Wi-Fi.

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The UK and US authorities have already given security clearance for the takeover.

Viasat provides connectivity services to residential, aviation and defense customers in North America, while Inmarsat provides satellite communications services to the shipping and aviation industries as well as government departments.

The two companies said they remained confident the deal would close and increase the availability of affordable in-flight Wi-Fi, noting that rivals Panasonic (6752.T) and Intelsat account for more than 75% of the market on long-haul flights. .

The joint statement from Viasat and Inmarsat says they will communicate any expected delays in closing the deal as their engagement with CMA progresses.

For its part, the watchdog said the deal needed further investigation because it could lead to a “substantial lessening of competition in a market or markets” in the UK, based on the information it has. currently.

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Reporting by Muvija M and Sarah Young Editing by David Goodman

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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