Falcone Close To Deal With Inmarsat

Aug 13 2010 | 3:46pm ET

By Teri Buhl, Contributor

Harbinger Capital Partners chief Phil Falcone is moving ahead with his 4G wireless plan in a big way. According to people involved in the deal, Falcone is about to execute a cooperative agreement with London-based satellite company Inmarsat. The FCC approved the agreement last month and Falcone has been working to shore up financing.

Rumors have been swirling for over a year that Falcone plans a predatory move to take over the company, but people close to the situation tell FINalternatives that is not what’s happening right now.

What is happening is that Falcone is about to give Inmarsat a huge boost in cash and rent some quality satellite space to advance his plan to bring wireless service to those in remote areas.

People involved in the deal told FINalternatives that the initial payment of $90 million will come from the LightSquared balance sheet—a wireless venture funded by Falcone. LightSquared recently announced it had raised $1.75 billion to create a national wireless network, but analysts predict they still need to raise billions more to make it a reality. Additional payments down the road for Falcone to secure a perpetual lease of 18 MHZ of L band spectrum, which includes a mandatory minimum $100 million a year investment, will come from other capital raised outside of Harbinger’s hedge funds.

A banker who has reviewed the deal and spoke on the condition of anonymity said the agreement could add $1 billion of value to Inmarsat down the road by triggering a stream of payments to the satellite company. Falcone, through his hedge funds, owns 28% of Inmarsat’s stock.

Inmarsat would not comment on the transaction.

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