Japan's SoftBank to invest $1 billion in OneWeb sat factory

Markets Associated Press

Japanese telecoms and energy company SoftBank has agreed to invest $1 billion in the U.S. company OneWeb Ltd., which plans to build a factory in Florida that the companies say could create 3,000 jobs.

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Arlington, Virginia-based OneWeb plans to build a network of satellites to provide global broadband access.

The two companies announced late Monday that OneWeb had obtained pledges of $1.2 billion from SoftBank and other investors.

The $1 billion commitment follows a promise by SoftBank founder Masayoshi Son to President-elect Donald Trump to create 50,000 jobs and invest $50 billion in U.S. startups.

The funds will finance the construction of a satellite factory in Exploration Park, Florida, to produce 15 satellites per week at a low cost. The companies said the business could create nearly 3,000 new engineering, manufacturing and other jobs.

OneWeb expects the factory to go online in 2018.

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Tokyo-based SoftBank is one of Japan's biggest telecoms providers, with more than 63,590 employees, a solar power business, humanoid robots for home use, ride-booking services and financial technology. It recently set up a $25 billion private fund for technology investments, along with Saudi Arabia and other investors, that Son says could grow to $100 billion.

It was unclear if they funds promised to OneWeb were part of that pledge.