White House dragged into In­marsat takeover bat­tle

Scottish Daily Mail - - City & Finance - by Matt Oliver

AN IN­TER­VEN­TION by Don­ald Trump’s White House at a court show­down today could help to clinch In­marsat’s £4.7bn bid to go pri­vate.

The US Pres­i­dent’s ad­min­is­tra­tion has waded into a row that sits at the heart of the High Court case which will de­cide whether the sale of the Bri­tish satel­lite telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions com­pany can go ahead.

In an ex­tra­or­di­nary bid to ex­tract more cash from the buy­ers – a pri­vate eq­uity con­sor­tium led by Lon­don-based Apax and New York-based War­burg Pin­cus – a small band of share­hold­ers is fight­ing the com­pany’s at­tempt to get fi­nal ap­proval for the takeover. This is de­spite the deal se­cur­ing the back­ing of in­vestors and reg­u­la­tors. The group, led by Oak­tree Cap­i­tal, says a con­tract In­marsat has with US firm Li­gado is more valu­able than has been dis­closed.

It claims Li­gado, which wants to use air­waves leased from In­marsat to launch a wire­less broad­band net­work, is on the cusp of hav­ing its li­cence ap­proved af­ter years of de­lays.

That would de­liver ex­tra rev­enues to In­marsat, one of the world’s lead­ing mo­bile and satel­lite com­mu­ni­ca­tion spe­cial­ists, and boost the firm’s value, the share­hold­ers ar­gue.

But in ev­i­dence set to be put for­ward today and to­mor­row, In­marsat’s lawyers will in­stead ar­gue that there is lit­tle prospect of that hap­pen­ing. The US

Sec­re­tary of De­fense, Mark Esper, has also in­ter­vened in the case – to op­pose Li­gado’s plans over fears that it could dis­rupt the Amer­i­can mil­i­tary’s global po­si­tion­ing sys­tems.

‘There are too many un­knowns and the risks are far too great to fed­eral op­er­a­tions to al­low Li­gado’s pro­posed sys­tem to pro­ceed,’ Esper said in a let­ter ear­lier this month. ‘This could have a sig­nif­i­cant neg­a­tive im­pact on mil­i­tary op­er­a­tions, both in peace­time and war. I there­fore strongly op­pose.’

The takeover deal has al­ready been held up by scru­tiny from the UK Gov­ern­ment, which sought as­sur­ances that it would not af­fect In­marsat’s work for the UK and US mil­i­taries.

Oak­tree de­clined to com­ment.

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