Eutelsat thinks about buying Inmarsat, then decides not to


You know when something seems like a really good idea but then you sleep on it and wake up wondering what on earth you were thinking?

That seems to have been what happened at the top of EMEA satellite operator Eutelsat when it thought it might buy rival UK satellite operator Inmarsat (it’s apparently a legal obligation for every satellite company to have ‘sat’ at the end of its name). Yesterday it announced it was seriously considering it but today indicated it just can’t be bothered with the hassle.

“Eutelsat notes the recent speculation and confirms that it is currently evaluating a possible offer for Inmarsat,” said Eutelsat yesterday. “There can be no certainty any offer will be made, nor as to the terms of any offer.”

By today the party line was “Pursuant to market rumours, during the trading session on 25 June 2018, Eutelsat issued, at the request of the UK Panel on Takeovers and Mergers, a press release confirming that it was considering a possible offer for Inmarsat, without any certainty that an offer would be made. This statement was made in strict compliance with Rule 2.2 of the Code.

“Eutelsat hereby states that it does not intend to make an offer for Inmarsat and is consequently, except with the consent of the Panel, bound by the restrictions set out under Rule 2.8 of the Code applicable during six months from the date of this announcement.

“Eutelsat reserves the right to announce an offer or possible offer for Inmarsat or participate in an offer or possible offer for Inmarsat or take any other action which would otherwise be restricted under Rule 2.8 of the Code within six months from the date of this announcement in the following circumstances: (i) with the consent of the Board of Inmarsat; (ii) if a third party (including another publicly identified potential offeror) announces a firm intention to make an offer for Inmarsat; (iii) if Inmarsat announces a “whitewash” proposal or a reverse takeover; or (iv) if the Panel determines there has been a material change of circumstances.”

Take the lawyers out of the equation and the statement reads: ‘we’re not going to make an offer now but we might later.’ The FT reports that one of the main reasons Eutelsat decided not to bother with the move is that there are a bunch of political complications, especially from the UK side, and there was a decent chance it would be blocked.

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