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Inmarsat shares fall 9% after deal talks stop

22 июля 2008

Shares in Inmarsat fell almost 9 per cent on Monday after the suspension of talks about a possible takeover of the UK satellite telephone operator by Harbinger Capital, a leading US hedge fund.

Harbinger made clear it could not issue a formal offer for Inmarsat until it had obtained regulatory clearance for a deal.

The hedge fund estimated that such clearance could take up to 18 months.

However, Harbinger said it remained interested in securing control of Inmarsat, where it is already the largest shareholder with a 28 per cent stake, subject to gaining clearance from the US authorities.

Inmarsat said talks with Harbinger, which were disclosed earlier this month, had now ended but added that it was open to future proposals from the hedge fund.

Inmarsat’s shares fell 46p to close at 466½p, giving the satellite telephone operator a market capitalisation of £2.1bn.

Harbinger asked Inmarsat to assist it with efforts to gain regulatory clearance for a takeover but the UK company declined.

Inmarsat said it could not do anything until Harbinger made an offer. “We’re not being aggressive. Just in the words of Tom Cruise: ‘Show me the money’,” the company said.

US regulators led by the Department of Justice and the Federal Communications Commission are expected to be asked to give clearance to the possibility of Harbinger-related companies owning a significant chunk of US radio spectrum capable of supporting phone services based on satellite and terrestrial technology.

Harbinger is interested in the possibility of launching a nationwide US mobile phone business using spectrum held by Inmarsat and other companies where the hedge fund has large stakes. It could alternatively choose to sell the spectrum to existing mobile operators.

According to regulatory disclosures, Harbinger owns 47.5 per cent of SkyTerra and 38.3 per cent of Terrestar, which are US companies planning to launch mobile services using a combination of satellite and terrestrial technology.

Inmarsat suggested that it might not be willing to be bought under certain circumstances.

“Harbinger could take the spectrum and try to sell it,” the company said. “That’s not something we would necessarily be able to support.”

Harbinger would likely need an industry partner to launch a mobile phone business in the US.

Tim Farrar, an analyst at TMF Associates, said that Leap Wireless, a small wireless operator, might be interested in the spectrum at the hedge fund’s disposal.

Источник: Financial Times

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