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November 29, 1995


By CBR Staff Writer

The Motorola Inc-led Iridium Inc mobile telephony by satellite consortium has announced plans to create an environment that will enable individual countries to invest in its proposed low-Earth-orbit satellite-based global telecommunications system through a direct equity stake. It says its aim is to extend the shareholder base of Iridium so that it ultimately represents worldwide ownership. Under the Iridium Global Ownership Programme, governments will be able to invest up to $275,000 for a small stake in the enterprise. An entity selected by its national government and the appropriate Iridium Regional Operating Organisation will be eligible to be the Iridium Inc shareholder for each country, says the group. The financing plan is expected to raise no more than $50m – or about 3% of Iridium’s $1,900m total equity financing goal. However, according to Iridium, the intention is not principally to raise additional capital, but rather to provide an unprecedented opportunity for each developing country to have an equity stake in a… telecommunications infrastructure that will serve its citizens nationwide even in the most remote areas, and also as they travel anywhere in the world. Philanthropical intentions notwithstanding, some industry cynics say that the move is intended to deflect criticism from developing countries – directed at all the proposed global telecommunications systems – that they are missing out on the telecommunications revolution occurring in the First World, a concern most recently vocalised by Nelson Mandela at Telecom 95 in Geneva According to Iridium, the Global Ownership Programme will be pursued in connection with its ongoing programme to recruit service provider partnerships with cellular, with other wireless and with wireline operators.

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