Iridium acquisition halted

New York merchant bank Castle Harlan will not go forward with trying to acquire the assets of bankrupt satellite communications system, Iridium the company said last Friday.

New York merchant bank Castle Harlan will not go forward with trying to acquire the assets of bankrupt satellite communications system, Iridium the company said last Friday.

"Our due diligence and marketing studies were unable to confirm that Iridium would generate even low levels of revenue with a high degree of certainty," the company said in a statement.

"The result is that we must conclude that it would be economically inadvisable to move forward with the acquisition of the company's assets."

In June, during Iridium's bankruptcy proceedings, a deal was proposed whereby Castle Harlan would pay $US50 million for the bulk of Iridium's assets.

The assets included Iridium's constellation of 66 communications satellites, its trademarks and tradenames and a center in Reston, Virginia, court documents revealed.

Castle Harlan, moreover, would have paid Iridium an additional $900,000 per month from the time the court gave its approval until the deal was actually closed. Iridium's lenders also would have received a 5% stake in any future company that came out of the acquisition.

The New York merchant bank had planned to pay for Iridium with $630 million in equity from the Castle Harlan Partners III investment fund.

Motorola was the principal backer behind the $5 billion Iridium venture that filed for bankruptcy protection in August 1999.

In March of this year, Iridium began shutting down its satellite phone service. Iridium failed to find a buyer with the company's debt reported to total $4.4 billion.

Also in March, Merit Studios attempted to acquire Iridium with the hopes of offering data services over the network. Venture Partners also expressed interest for a time in offering cellular telephone service in Latin America.

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