Inmarsat has agreed to a £2.6 billion (US$3.4 billion) acquisition by Triton Bidcoa, which will see the company return into private hands.

The newly incorporated entity, formed for the purpose of the acquisition, includes private equity funds Apax, Warburg Pincusor, Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, and Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board.

The growth and economic attractiveness of Inmarsat’s in-flight connectivity business in commercial aviation was one of the factors influencing the acquisition.

During 2018, Inmarsat’s aviation revenues grew by over 40%, within which in-flight connectivity revenues more than doubled.

The year also saw Inmarsat and Panasonic Avionics enter into a strategic collaboration agreement whereby Inmarsat will become Panasonic’s exclusive long-term provider of Ka-band IFC capacity, through GX, and will have access to Panasonic’s downstream IFE presence and capability.

Preparations are now well advanced for the service roll-out of the European Aviation Network (“EAN”), which is expected to take place during H1 2019, following a “soft launch” with British Airways in March.

During the past 12 months, Inmarsat has courted interest from a number of suitors, namely Eutelsat, Echostar and Softbank.

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