Bosses at British satellite firm Inmarsat have backed a £2.6billion takeover that will see it fall into foreign hands.
Inmarsat’s board said the deal with the Triton consortium would give it more certainty as it pumps investment into the fastest-growing parts of its business.
The consortium has promised to keep the company based in the UK and to maintain spending on research and development.
Approval: Inmarsat's board said the deal with the Triton consortium would give it more certainty as it pumps investment into the fastest-growing parts of its business
But the deal is expected to face scrutiny from the Government, with critics warning it puts yet another British tech pioneer into foreign hands.
It also marks a U-turn by Inmarsat’s board, after chief executive Rupert Pearce previously insisted the company was better off on its own.
However, in an announcement yesterday, Inmarsat’s board urged shareholders to back the deal. It added: ‘Implementation of the existing strategy would continue to generate significant value for shareholders as an independent company.
However, there are risks involved in what is a long-term, capital-intensive strategy. The offer from the consortium would allow Inmarsat shareholders the opportunity to realise the value of their holdings at a material premium.’
The announcement sent shares in Inmarsat surging 9.6 per cent, or 48.8p, to 555p – higher than the Triton offer of 546p per share.
The Triton consortium includes UK group Apax, US-based Warburg Pincus, the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board.
It said it was partly attracted to Inmarsat because of its burgeoning aviation business, which provides in-flight broadband on planes.
The consortium said: ‘Triton believes the satellite sector is attractive, with unique characteristics. It is well positioned for growth.
‘Triton also sees considerable potential for Inmarsat’s in-flight connectivity business in commercial aviation.’
The companies would aim to put the Inmarsat takeover to a shareholder vote by May 31.
So far, only top shareholder Lansdowne Partners, which owns 11pc, has declared in favour of the deal.
Inmarsat operates 13 satellites and half its business comes from the maritime sector, where it provides tracking and communication services to ships and planes. However its shares have been laid low by growing competition.