Inmarsat plc (LSE: ISAT) is a British satellite telecommunications company, offering global, mobile services. It provides telephony and data services to users worldwide, via portable or mobile terminals which communicate to ground stations through eleven geostationary telecommunications satellites. Inmarsat's network provides communications services to a range of governments, aid agencies, media outlets and businesses with a need to communicate in remote regions or where there is no reliable terrestrial network. The Company is listed on the London Stock Exchange and is a constituent of the FTSE 100 Index from September 2008.
The company was originally founded in 1979 as the International Maritime Satellite Organization (Inmarsat), a not-for-profit international organization, set up at the behest of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), a United Nations body, for the purpose of establishing a satellite communications network for the maritime community. It began trading in 1982. From the beginning, the acronym "Inmarsat" was used. The intent was to create a self-financing body which would improve safety of life at sea. The name was changed to "International Mobile Satellite Organization" when it began to provide services to aircraft and portable users, but the acronym "Inmarsat" was kept. When the organisation was converted into a private company in 1999, the business was split into two parts: The bulk of the organisation was converted into the commercial company, Inmarsat plc, and a small group became the regulatory body, IMSO. In 2005 Apax Partners and Permira bought shares in the Company. The Company was also first listed on the London Stock Exchange in that year. In March 2008 it was disclosed that U.S. hedge fund Harbinger Capital owned 28% of the company. In July 2009, Inmarsat completed the acquisition of a 19-per-cent stake in SkyWave Mobile Communications Inc., a provider of Inmarsat D+/IsatM2M network services which in turn purchased the GlobalWave business from TransCore. On 15-04-2009 Inmarsat completed the acquisition of satellite communications provider Stratos Global Corporation (Stratos).
Inmarsat won the 2010 MacRobert Award for its Broadband Global Area Network (BGAN) service, overcoming the three other shortlisted companies — Chas. A. Blatchford & Sons Ltd. for the Echelon hydraulic ankle-foot for amputees, Cobham Technical Services for the Minehound dual sensor land mine detector, and Lucite International UK Ltd for the Alpha process for methyl methacrylate.