US satellite service start-up offers minority stake to Russia: report
02 January 2019
US satellite start-up OneWeb, which uses Russian facilities for its services, has offered to sell a minority stake to Russia, amidst concerns in Moscow about the company’s plan to create a worldwide internet network using satellites, a Reuters report quoting sources said.
Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) had in October raised concerns over the project servicing Russia for security reasons, saying it could be used to gather intelligence and undermine national security.
Russia with its many remote areas, where high-speed broadband is not available, is an important market for OneWeb’s project. It also needs the assistance of Russian space agency Roscosmos to send satellites into orbit.
OneWeb has offered the Russian government the option of buying a 12.5 per cent stake in the company in exchange for approving its request for a frequency band in the country, including one in the Kremlin, according to the Reuters report.
The offer was made at a meeting with Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev earlier this year, the report added.
A Russian subsidiary of OneWeb and Rosmoscos submitted a request for the frequency band last year, but it was rejected by the authorities.
The Russian government is reported to be not satisfied with the conditions attached to the stake purchase, as it wanted access to the technical documentation before committing to the deal.
The Russian government is still discussing OneWeb’s proposal, the report said.
If Russia buys a minority stake in OneWeb, it would be represented on the company’s board of directors and will have access to the project’s technical documentation, the sources said.