Telecoms firm O3b Networks has secured an ECA-backed US$1.2bn in funding from banks and investors to launch its first satellites to improving internet access to developing markets.

The multi-tranche funding comprises of a US$510mn Coface-backed senior debt facility provided by HSBC, ING, Crédit Agricole and Dexia; a US$115mn senior debt facility and a US$145mn mezzanine facility provided by HSBC Principal Investments, the Development Bank of South Africa, Africa Development Bank, DEG, Proparco, FMO, the IFC and Emerging Africa Infrastructure Fund.

Finally, US$410mn will come from equity financing, US$230mn of which is new equity investment.

O3b would not comment on the tenors or pricing of the financing when contacted by GTR.

“The amount of new funding and the quality of the investors reflects O3b Networks’ ability to balance important social goals while maintaining the required private sector returns,” says O3b chairman John Dick.

“I am delighted that we are now fully funded and working towards a firm launch date.”

Mark Rigolle, chief executive of the telecoms firm, adds: “I am delighted that we are now fully funded and working towards a firm launch date. Through partnerships with telecommunications operators and internet service providers, O3B’s technology will provide the speed of fibre optics with the reach of satellite, serving billions of end-users around the world.”

Coface has backed a number of satellite projects in 2010.

In October, the French ECA backed a US$115mn BNP Paribas and Société Générale facility for Hughes Network Systems, and June saw the ECA provide cover for Thales Alenia Space’s US$1.8bn satellite project.