UK registered, US-based OneWeb announced on 19 December an unexpected end to its non-debt fundraising activities after securing US$1.2 billion. OneWeb, led by charismatic leader Greg Wyler, plans to build a low Earth orbit constellation of 648 communications satellites, plus another 250 as spares. This second round of financing, coupled with the first (completed June 2015), means the company – which is based in Arlington, Virginia – has managed to raise US$1.7 billion. This exceeds its original US$1.5 billion target for non-debt financing.
OneWeb is now able to move forward with building its satellite constellation without the need for a third round. The remaining funds required to finance the project, with its total cost of between US$2.5 and 3.5 billion, will be raised through debt financing.
Softbank, Japan, a multinational telecommunications and internet provider, led this second round, providing US$1 billion of the US$1.2 billion total. The rest was raised by OneWeb’s current investors. Softbank Chairman and CEO, Masayoshi Son said of the deal, “Earlier this month I met with President-Elect Trump and shared my commitment to investing and creating jobs in the U.S. This is the first step in that commitment.”
OneWeb’s constellation is being built in conjunction with Airbus Defence and Space. The first ten units will be built at the primary Airbus DS facility in Toulouse, France, before construction is moved to the new satellite production factory being built in Exploration Park, Florida. This is were all the remaining satellites will be constructed. This new facility is to be run by a joint venture between OneWeb and Airbus called OneWeb Satellites.