Avionics Update: Inmarsat sale down to three bidders

 - May 9, 2008, 5:51 AM

Inmarsat, the main satellite communications provider to civil aviation, maritime and land-mobile users, has been placed on the sales block after the company once again canceled plans to float a public stock offering. At press time, three suitors–Apollo Advisers, Apax Partners and Permira–were understood to be on the verge of submitting final bids to purchase the UK-based company, estimated to be worth about $1.6 billion. “Obviously, at this point the scenarios that could play out are day-to-day,” said an Inmarsat spokeswoman, adding, “On a number of occasions since it was privatized in 1999 Inmarsat had intended to go public, but now the company is exploring other options.” The spokeswoman declined to disclose the options under consideration, but Inmarsat’s owners–Europe-based BT Group, Deutsche Telekom, France Telecom and Telenor–are said to be anxious to offload the satcom service provider to help stem their own debt problems. Inmarsat operates nine satellites, providing worldwide voice and 64-kbps data service to thousands of business aircraft operators and other users.