Adrian Steckel, the Chief Executive Officer of OneWeb Satellitesby Bloomberg
Satellite operator OneWeb has filed for bankruptcy, becoming one of the first companies backed by SoftBank Group to seek court protection from its creditors after high costs and stiff competition led to a cash crunch.
The company listed liabilities and assets of more than $1 billion each in its Chapter 11 petition in the US Bankruptcy Court in White Plains, New York.
In a statement, OneWeb said that it had been in advanced discussions earlier in the year for a fresh investment, but the discussions fell apart after the coronavirus pandemic sent markets into turmoil.
The satellite operator said it will pursue a sale process during the court reorganization and is in talks for so-called debtor-in-possession financing that would allow the company to fund its obligations during the proceedings.
OneWeb makes low-orbit satellites that provide high-speed communications. The company raised about $3.3 billion in debt and equity financing from shareholders including SoftBank, Airbus and Qualcomm since its inception.
The firm faces high-profile competition, including from Elon Musk’s SpaceX Starlink project and Jeff Bezos’s Amazon-linked Project Kuiper effort, while incumbents in the space include Inmarsat, Intelsat and Eutelsat Communications.
At the time of its filing, the company owed $238 million to Arianespace, the Paris-based world’s first commercial space transportation company and OneWeb satellite launch operator.