September 24, 2009
SkyTerra, the hybrid satellite-terrestrial mobile phone company, is being acquired by its largest shareholder, Harbinger Capital Partners, in a deal that will take SkyTerra private. Terms were not disclosed.
SkyTerra is awaiting receipt of new silicon chips from Qualcomm, scheduled for delivery next year. The firm is planning to launch its dual satellite-terrestrial cell phone service in 2011, initially attracting public safety and other government agencies to use the service. The firm has said it is planning to use dual-mode handsets on satellites and 700 MHz public safety terrestrial networks. The firm figures that its users will be able to automatically switch to satellite reception when they leave reception of their terrestrial coverage. In a statement this week announcing the takeover deal, SkyTerra said "The transaction is the culmination of a thorough evaluation of SkyTerra's strategic alternatives by a special committee of SkyTerra's board of directors composed solely of independent directors." SkyTerra has had a long and tortured history, tracing its origins back more than a decade. It plans to launch two satellites next year in an important phase of growth. Harbinger is led by chief investment officer Philip Falcone, a successful investor who is ranked among the top 1,000 richest Americans by Forbes Magazine.
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