Two to bid for Inmarsat

4 Sep 2003

According to the Financial Times, having tried and failed to float five times EMEA satellite operation Inmarsat is expecting to receive bids from two private equity groups by mid-September. The first bidding group includes Soros Private Equity Partners and Apollo Management while the second group comprises Apax Partners and Permira. According to the British broadsheet a board meeting has been scheduled for 16 September to examine the bids, which are expected to run to the order of USD1 billion and USD1.3 billion. Inmarsat, which has been in operation since 1979, controls a fleet of nine geostationary satellites.

As it stands, Inmarsat is owned by 86 companies, including Deutsche Telekom, BT, Telenor and Lockheed Martin. The fact that the company has so many shareholders has in part been to blame for the length of time it has taken for the company to be sold; shareholders have struggled to reach agreement on the best way to sell, with the result that some have already sold their stakes to financial institutions rather than wait for market conditions for new issues to improve. In order for each of the bidding groups to proceed with the acquisition at least 75% of shareholders must accept the offer. The winner bidder is expected to retain current management and will be required to wait at least four years before launching an IPO.