Satellite companies ICO and Teledesic are likely to merge after the successful emergence of New ICO, formerly ICO Global Communications, from bankruptcy protection on 17 May on completion of a $1.2 billion rescue headed by Teledesic chairman Craig McCaw.

ICO entered Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in August after its failure to secure an additional $1.6 billion to allow it to launch services.

Recently established holding company ICO-Teledesic Global, which controls the satellite assets of McCaw's private investment company Eagle River Investments, was expected to propose the merger of ICO and Teledesic this month. Teledesic directors have already approved its absorption by ICO-Teledesic Global, becoming a wholly owned subsidiary. The merger would require the approval of the New ICO board, shareholders and regulatory authorities.

Following the completion of New ICO's reorganisation plan, ICO-Teledesic Global is the controlling shareholder in London-based New ICO. McCaw will be chairman of ICO-Teledesic Global and retain chairmanship of New ICO and Teledesic.

New ICO will expand from its original focus on mobile voice service to third-generation wireless services, including wireless internet and packet data services. Since late last year, Teledesic has worked with ICO and its industrial partners Hughes Space and Communications, Hughes Network Systems, NEC and Ericsson to upgrade the ground network to allow it to provide high speed internet services.

The New ICO constellation will comprise 10 medium-Earth orbit satellites plus two spares. The first ICO satellite was lost in a Sea Launch failure in March.

Source: Flight International