- Eutelsat's CEO, Eva Berneke, pins hopes on the acquisition of British firm OneWeb to revitalize the company's fortunes.
- The merger aims to harmonize Eutelsat's geostationary satellites with OneWeb's low Earth orbit satellites, creating a comprehensive GEO plus LEO network.
- Amid shareholder resistance due to a dividend suspension, Berneke envisages high growth prospects following a €4 billion investment in "Gen 2" satellites.
In an era where satellite companies are being increasingly threatened by the grandeur ambitions of billionaires like Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos, one of the global leaders in the sector, Eutelsat, is betting big on a game-changing acquisition to weather the storm and shift its fortunes.
Eutelsat, despite being one of the most prominent satellite entities worldwide, has struggled with dwindling revenue streams from its conventional business ventures, and it's amidst this challenging landscape that the massive acquisition of British firm, OneWeb, stands as a beacon of hope for the company.
Eutelsat's CEO, Eva Berneke, has placed her faith in this strategic acquisition, recognizing it as the company's "big bet". While Eutelsat's primary income comes from geostationary or GEO satellites which facilitate connectivity for broadcasting operations such as TV networks, this revenue has been gradually ebbing away.
In contrast, OneWeb, with its focus on low Earth orbit or LEO satellites—essential for services like internet connectivity—holds promise for a complementary business model that could merge effectively with Eutelsat’s conventional GEO operations. Berneke sees this merger as a significant opportunity to amalgamate the two distinct networks into a single cohesive GEO plus LEO network, reminiscent of the Starlink model.
Last year, Eutelsat announced its decision to acquire OneWeb, which was once a fierce competitor to Elon Musk’s Starlink, and had filed for bankruptcy in 2020. Despite significant shareholder resistance due to the considerable changes within the company and the suspension of dividends to invest in OneWeb and new "Gen 2" satellites, Berneke remains optimistic about the high growth prospects for Eutelsat. She suggests that once the 4 billion euros investment for Gen 2 satellites is recouped, the returns will prove beneficial for the shareholders.
Berneke recognizes the paradigm shift in risk-taking, acknowledging how industry innovators like Musk have reshaped the perception of risk in business. Eutelsat's strategic acquisition of OneWeb represents a measured risk with the potential to rapidly advance the company and adapt to the evolving industry landscape.
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