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Iridium wins $20m investment

To tide it over to Craig McCaw saves it, presumably...

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Troubled satellite telecomms company Iridium found itself the recipient of a cheque for $20 million on Friday courtesy of Motorola and a bunch of the company's other investors. Of course, that's a tiny drop compared to Iridium's ocean of debt - $4bn and counting - so it's clearly funding intended to keep the company going while its management seeks support from investors for a financial restructure.

Keeping Iridium alive is a priority for Motorola. Quite apart from its commitment to backing up the telecomms company's debt, Motorola provides cellphones for the satellite service, it has second-generation Iridium phones in the works which will hopefully be somewhat cheaper and lighter than existing models.

Due at the end of the year, they could help persuade more customers to buy into the Iridium service -- though the company's financial health acts a pretty significant counter to that. Iridium's bosses have been trying to persuade the company's institutional investors to support its restructure plans for the last six months or so - with little sign of success.

Even Motorola's threat to pull out if investors didn't come together to support the ailing satellite venture doesn't seem to have helped matters.

Meanwhile, telecoms entrepreneur Craig McCaw, who has successfully worked his way onto the board of Iridium's chief rival, ICO Global Communications, through a major investment in that company, is in talks with Iridium to do the same, possibly with a view to pulling it and ICO into his other venture, satellite-based broadband networking operation Teledesic. ®

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Iridium to enter Chapter 11
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Teledesic's McCaw to bail out ICO
Iridium rival ICO plans Teledesic makeover

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