U.K. to Examine Whether Inmarsat Deal Is in Public Interest

(Bloomberg) -- The U.K. antitrust regulator asked the government to test whether the takeover of satellite operator Inmarsat Plc raises public interest concerns or could endanger national security.

The Competition and Markets Authority said Tuesday it brought the $3.4 billion purchase by a consortium of funds including Apax Partners and Warburg Pincus to the attention of culture secretary Jeremy Wright. The CMA will also assess whether the deal raises competition issues and will decide by a Sept. 10 deadline if it merits an in-depth investigation.

Inmarsat declined to comment.

The company’s satellites link critical government functions including naval operations, border security and emergency services in Britain and dozens of other countries including the U.S.

Its more commercial operations face growing competition from traditional rivals such as ViaSat Inc. and new challengers including Richard Branson-backed OneWeb and Elon Musk’s SpaceX offering smaller, cheaper satellites. Inmarsat has pinned its hopes on selling faster, more reliable internet services to the world’s airlines.

The bidders -- which also include Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board -- made their offer via a joint-venture company owned in equal shares, Connect Bidco Ltd.

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