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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

A company that might be at the center of 5G's future is being thrown a lifeline.

Driving the news: Ligado Networks is raising $3.85 billion in expensive new financing to stay out of bankruptcy. The spectrum company's survival could be crucial to the long sought-after, and sometimes controversial, dream of deploying a nationwide 5G network.

Wireless companies like T-Mobile, Verizon and AT&T are racing to acquire spectrum to build next generation 5G wireless networks. The type of spectrum Ligado holds, commonly known as L-Band, is a source of additional capacity and may help traditional carriers boost their ability to create even better networks.

  • One estimate from New Street Research says Ligado’s L-Band spectrum portfolio could be worth anywhere from $12-$23 billion, depending on how the carriers want to use it.

Stay of play: The Federal Communications Commission and Trump administration leaders like Attorney General William Barr, a former telecom exec, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo firmly back Ligado’s effort. But other U.S. agencies, including the Federal Aviation Administration, the Department of Defense, and members of Congress have lobbied hard against the company.

By the numbers: JPMorgan bankers presented Ligado’s bond deal earlier this month with juicy interest payments of 13% on the highest priority notes and 16% on the more junior notes, according to an offering document reviewed by Axios.

  • But that wasn't good enough — the bank changed the terms yesterday in order to drum up more demand, according to one investor not authorized to speak publicly.
  • Ligado reduced the amount it is borrowing from $4.3 billion, and is now offering to pay a 15.5% coupon on the more senior notes and 17.5% on the junior bond, says the investor, adding the company will pay no cash interest right away.

Go deeper

Team Trump's 5G misfires

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios


The Trump administration, eager to win the 5G race and outflank China's Huawei, has run one plan after another up the flagpole — but found it hard to keep any of them flying.

Driving the news: White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow aired a new approach Tuesday to speed the emergence of U.S.-led alternatives to Huawei. Attorney General William Barr dismissed the same idea Thursday as "pie in the sky."

Jan 29, 2020 - Technology

The battle over 5G deployment in America's cities

The fate of the national race to build 5G wireless service depends on how effectively the guts of the network — namely, hundreds of thousands of bulky antennas — are placed in cities.

Why it matters: While global tensions mount over pressure to build 5G networks as fast as possible, U.S. cities are in a fight of their own with telecom carriers and federal regulators over how new 5G antennas — or small cells — will be scattered throughout downtowns and neighborhoods.

Updated 3 hours ago - World

Reports: Up to 17 U.S. missionaries kidnapped in Haiti

Haitian soldiers guard the public prosecutor's office in Port-au-Prince earlier this month. Photo: Richard Pierrin/AFP via Getty Images

Children were among up to 17 American Christian missionaries and their relatives kidnapped by a gang in Haiti on Saturday, the New York Times first reported.

Details: The missionaries had just left an orphanage and were traveling by bus to the airport to "drop off some members" and were due to travel to another destination when the gang struck in Port-au-Prince, Haitian security officials said, per the NYT.

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