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Softbank suffers PS380m loss on its stake in Oneweb.

Byline: JAMES WARRINGTON @j_a_warrington

SOFTBANK is said to have written down its stake in Oneweb by PS380m as the British satellite company contends with the astronomical costs of its planned launches.

Oneweb has burned through billions of pounds as it seeks to create a network of satellites providing highspeed broadband access across the globe.

Softbank, which is Oneweb's largest shareholder, took an impairment loss on its stake earlier this year, the Sunday Telegraph reported, citing a source.

Airbus, Qualcomm and Virgin Group among others are shareholders in the Londonbased satellite firm, which boasts a valuation of more than $1bn (PS823m) and has earned sought-after "unicorn" status.

In addition to the Softbank writedown, some early investors have lost as much as half of the value of their stakes, according to the report.

Oneweb, which secured $1.3bn in its latest Softbank-led funding round in March, has ramped up its plans for satellite production amid competition from Elon Musk's Space X and Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin.

The firm said it will accelerate production at its Florida manufacturing facility, with plans to launch 30 satellites every month from the fourth quarter.

The satellite launch campaign, which Oneweb said is the largest ever, will lead to an initial network of 650 satellites.

The decline in value is a setback for Softbank, which has made a number of investments in high-profile tech startups, including Uber, Slack and Wework. The Japanese conglomerate has launched a second $108bn Vision Fund to invest in artificial intelligence-focused tech firms. Softbank, which is run by billionaire Masayoshi Son, is reportedly planning to lend money to its employees to invest in the new fund.

A Oneweb spokesperson said: "The funding round in March increased the investment in Oneweb by $1.25bn. On a per share basis, the issue of new penny warrants diluted investors, but the enterprise value continues to increase."

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Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Group is an investor in Oneweb

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Publication:City AM (London, England)
Date:Aug 19, 2019
Words:324
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