OneWeb announced today about its successful $1.2 billion fundraising round led by Japanese giant SoftBank Group Corp. and other investors. SoftBank becomes the major stakeholder for the U.S. based satellite company by investing a sum of $1 billion in investor funding round and acquiring 40% of its stake. The deal is a debut transaction for the $50 billion U.S. investment pledged by SoftBank to President-elect Donald Trump.
Masayoshi Son, Chairman and CEO of SoftBank commented upon the same in its official press release,
Earlier this month I met with President-Elect Trump and shared my commitment to investing and creating jobs in the U.S. This is the first step in that commitment. America has always been at the forefront of innovation and technological development and we are thrilled to be playing a part in continuing to drive that growth as we work to create a truly globally connected ecosystem.
With the current investments in hand OneWeb values at $2.5 billion. The fund raising round is towards OneWeb’s going project of providing affordable internet access to everyone. The company is developing a constellation with 720 low earth orbit (LEO) satellites in order to provide global internet coverage. The project would create 3,000 new engineering, manufacturing and supporting jobs in the U.S. over the next four years alongside revolutionizing the internet technology. Apart from it, the newly raised capital will be channelized towards construction of a manufacturing facility in Exploration Park, Florida which will be capable of generating 15 faster and cheaper modular satellites per week.
Greg Wyler, Founder of OneWeb acknowledges SoftBank’s support in their endeavors and adds,
I have long admired Mr. Son’s track record and his vision for the future of a technologically-powered world. I am honored to welcome SoftBank as a long-term investor and strategic partner. SoftBank’s investment underscores the evolution and continued success of our company and accelerates our strategic growth plan. We look forward to working together as we execute on our mission to build a global knowledge infrastructure that provides affordable broadband to the over four billion people across the globe without internet access.
The $1 billion investment will directly come from SoftBank and is not a part of its $100 billion Vision Fund. Further, the transaction is expected to complete by first quarter of 2017. Other investors for OneWeb’s fundraising round include Qualcomm Incorporated, Airbus Group, the Virgin Group and India’s Bharti Enterprises responsible for remaining $200 million. The company takes on its rival firm SpaceX, which is the brain child of Elon Musk. SpaceX also plans to develop similar constellations of 1000 satellites and is direct competition for OneWeb.
The year has been an interesting year for SoftBank with major acquistions including ARM Holdings in July for $32 billion, Vodafone’s Japanese operations and the US telecoms company Sprint. The company also partnered with Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund for its Vision Fund and on-boarded Apple for same. Let’s see what company unveils in remaining 2016 or ends the year with this news only.