UK’s competition authority delays Viasat-Inmarsat acquisition

Viasat’s bid to buy Inmarsat has suffered a further setback and delay. The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has decided to deepen its investigation of the deal.

The companies were given a short time to allay the “Phase 1” concerns of the regulator but it has now decided to advance to “Phase 2” and the more detailed consideration of the deal that will involve. It could take as long as 30 March 2023, it says.

The CMA announced the investigation “on the basis that, on the information currently available to it, it is or may be the case that this merger has resulted or may be expected to result in a substantial lessening of competition within a market or markets in the United Kingdom”.

The inquiry appointed by the CMA comprises: Richard Feasey (Chair, pictured right), Colleen Keck, David Thomas and Crispin Wright.

Competition objections

Previously, concerns were identified around the provision of inflight connectivity (IFC) for airline passengers. Specifically, that the deal could lead to airlines facing higher prices and worse quality on-board wi-fi and that it would remove a key competitor from the market

You can view the Viasat / Inmarsat merger inquiry page on the Competition and Markets Authority website for updates.

Note that the U.S. Federal Communications Commission and Justice Department has also yet to officially approve the combination.

Previously, the acquisition had been given the go ahead – on the basis of posing no threat to national security – by the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), Jacob Rees-Mogg.