South Korea’s Hanwha enlarges space focus with $300 million OneWeb investment

TAMPA, Fla. — Satellite broadband startup OneWeb has secured $300 million of strategic investment from Hanwha, the South Korean conglomerate with plans for its own megaconstellation.

Hanwha bought an 8.8% stake in OneWeb through its defense division Hanwha Systems, which acquired British antenna startup Phasor Solutions last year as part of its growing space ambitions.

U.K.-headquartered OneWeb expects regulatory approvals to complete the Hanwha transaction in the first half of 2022, bringing its total investment since emerging from bankruptcy protection in November to $2.7 billion.

The startup has said it only needed $2.4 billion to fund its initial constellation of 648 satellites in low Earth orbit.

It reached that in June, after Indian telecom company Bharti Global doubled its investment to $1 billion to secure what would have been a 38.6% stake before Hanwha’s announcement.

The U.K. government, French satellite operator Eutelsat and Japanese internet giant Softbank were each in line for just under 20% after making their own investments. 

U.S.-based Hughes Network Systems, which is supplying parts for OneWeb’s ground segment, also had a small stake.

OneWeb was unable to comment before this article was published.

“Hanwha brings advanced defence and antenna technology development to the OneWeb line-up,” OneWeb CEO Neil Masterson said in a statement. 

“We are all delighted that they have chosen to join us on this journey of innovation, shaping a global service to connect the most remote locations and to provide a critical digital pathway from space to our interconnected world.”

The investment would give the South Korean group a seat on OneWeb’s board of directors.

Hanwha Systems plans to build and deploy a constellation of 2,000 satellites in LEO by 2030.

Hanwha Group has said it will invest 500 billion South Korean won ($440 million) in the project by 2023. 

The LEO constellation aims to provide connectivity to urban cargo-delivery drones and passenger airplanes.

OneWeb is working toward commercially launching its constellation next year to serve enterprise, government, maritime and aviation customers.

Its latest launch on a Soyuz 2.1b rocket July 1 expanded the constellation to 254 satellites.

Another Soyuz rocket plans to launch a batch of 34 satellites for OneWeb Aug. 20 from Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan.

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