April 5, 2012
By Dan Namowitz
LightSquared, the capital venture whose plan to build a wireless network imploded because its technology blocked GPS signals, may file for bankruptcy, said published reports.
Several news organizations reported this week that the hedge-fund-financed company, of Reston, Va., has until April 30 to persuade bondholders not to pull the plug, despite big losses in 2011 and a Federal Communications Commission order in February revoking the network’s conditional network approval.
Philip Falcone, manager of the hedge fund that has invested about $3 billion in LightSquared, said that a “voluntary bankruptcy” might be a way to keep the company alive in a bid to complete the network, reports said. He was also reported looking into signal-filtering technology to solve interference problems.
The Reuters news service reported that creditors of Falcone’s Harbinger Capital Partners might force LightSquared into bankruptcy if he cannot forge a deal by the end of April. The report said several other hedge funds were considering holding LightSquared in default of a $1.6 billion loan.
LightSquared first won conditional approval to proceed with its network in January 2011. Since then, opposition from private-sector and government agencies has focused on technical data from FCC-ordered tests that proved that the network’s powerful ground transmitting bases overwhelmed the weaker GPS signals.
The FCC revoked its approval in February in a proceeding that AOPA and the General Aviation Manufacturers Association urged be expeditiously closed. Also in February, LightSquared CEO Sanjiv Ahuja resigned.
Dan Namowitz is an aviation writer and flight instructor. He has been a pilot since 1985 and an instructor since 1990.
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