SoftBank Returns to Invest in Musk Satellite Rival OneWeb
Men wearing protective masks exit a SoftBank Corp. store in Tokyo. (Photographer: Toru Hanai/Bloomberg)

SoftBank Returns to Invest in Musk Satellite Rival OneWeb

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SoftBank Group Corp. has injected $350 million into satellite startup OneWeb, helping to revive a business that stumbled into bankruptcy last year.

The Japanese conglomerate and U.S. satellite company Hughes Network Systems LLC invested a total of $400 million in the low-earth orbit venture, which was rescued by the U.K. government and Indian telecommunications company Bharti Global. SoftBank will get a board seat as part of the investment, which takes OneWeb’s funding to $1.4 billion, OneWeb said in a statement Friday.

SoftBank was one of OneWeb’s original investors, pouring more than $1 billion into the London-based venture, and retained a small stake following the Chapter 11 restructuring.

OneWeb is racing Elon Musk’s Starlink venture to offer global broadband services using constellations of small satellites. SoftBank previously attempted to merge OneWeb with established satellite company Intelsat SA.

Friday’s deal, which Bharti founder and OneWeb’s billionaire executive chairman Sunil Mittal hinted at last month, leaves the satellite company with a funding gap of roughly $1 billion to launch and operate its first planned generation of 648 satellites. OneWeb currently has 110 spacecraft in orbit since it resumed launches under its new ownership last month.

Hughes had agreed in principle to invest $50 million back in July.

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