Rival offer for satellite business

Soros Private Equity and Apollo Management are reported to have submitted an offer for Inmarsat exceeding the $1.4bn already on the table from Apax and Permira.

The race to acquire global satellite operator Inmarsat has heated up following reports that Soros Private Equity and Apollo Management, long-time interested parties in the lengthy sale process of the business, have come forward with an improved bid for the business.


Soros and Apollo have raised their offer from $14.30 a share to $15, according to the Financial Times, which constitutes a $75m increase on the offer put forward by Apax Partners and Permira in mid-September. Soros and Apollo now value the the business at $1.5bn.


Inmarsat’s indepent directors confirmed last week that Permira and Apax were preferred bidders for the business. The consortium has until October 8 to reach a final agreement with Inmarsat.


Set up in 1979, Inmarsat owns and operates a global satellite network, providing services to customers in the maritime, aeronautical and multinational corporate sectors. The group’s principal operational areas are: Global mobile satellite communications, transportable broadband communications solutions, and provision of content and applications to its key markets.


In its full year results for 2002, Inmarsat, which is owned by a consortium of Telenor, Lockheed Martin, Deutsche Telekom and British Telecom, reported a five per cent increase ingroup revenues to $463m. The firm reported EBITDA of $314m, an eleven per cent increase on the previous year.


The sector has been subject to private equity interest for some time. Earlier this year, French private equity house Eurazeo acquired France Telecom's 23 per cent stake in European satellite operator Eutelsat for just under E450m.


In December 2002, Italian private equity firm Investindustrial, formerly 21 Invest, teamed up with publishing group De Agostini to acquire a 10.9 per cent stake in Eutelsat from Deutsche Telekom for E210m. Also last year, a company majority-controlled by Lehman Brothers’ private equity division acquired Telecom Italia’s 20.5 per cent stake in the Eutelsat for $480m.