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SpaceX Starlink spinoff: IPO capital raise could fund Elon Musk’s expansion ambitions

By Daniela Ešnerová

12:15, 20 October 2022

Starlink satellite
Starlink is the main driver behind SpaceX’s valuation, analysts say. -- Shutterstock

Elon Musk's satellite communication venture Starlink could split from the space exploration and space launch company SpaceX and enter public markets by 2025, according to tech analytics company CCS Insights.

SpaceX founder and the world's richest person previously said that Starlink would go public once its revenues are more predictable, and according to CCS Insights, that time may have come.

In a report published on Tuesday, CCS Insights analysts wrote that Starlink's “revenue becomes more predictable and it gains more and more users, the company is spun off to raise capital to expand its constellation of satellites” to meet the growing demand for its services.

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Starlink driving SpaceX valuation

The Starlink project, whose mission is to increase broadband internet, is currently providing connections to 40 countries. In May, SpaceX revealed that its valuation was $127bn and analysts have estimated that Starlink is the main driver behind the booming valuation.

Last year, Musk hinted that Starlink would go public when its revenues become predictable: “At least a few years before Starlink revenue is reasonably predictable.

“Going public sooner than that would be very painful,” Musk wrote in a tweet on 21 June 2021, as he pledged to “do [his] best to give long-term Tesla (TSLA) shareholders preference”. 

Amid Starlink IPO ambitions speculations this week, Tesla (TSLA) shareholders were disappointed, however, after the company posted quarterly revenues that missed Wall Street's expectations. 

The demand for Starlink terminals is high and growing according to CSS Insight analysts. Musk revealed that the number of Starlink terminal users breached 250,000 back in February.


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Ukraine controversy

Starlink skyrocketed to mainstream consciousness earlier this year on the back of its involvement in the Russia-Ukraine war. Back in February, two days after Russia launched a full-scale war in Ukraine, Musk donated Starlink terminals to Ukraine to help it stay connected amidst Russia's attacks on the country's infrastructure. 

Last week, Musk threatened to cut off the terminals in the wake of Ukraine's foreign minister's strong-worded criticism after the entrepreneur tweeted a peace plan proposal for Ukraine and Russia.

Over 25,000 were donated to Ukraine since the beginning of the war, but the majority of terminals were fully or partially funded by third-party sources. Some 85 percent of terminals were paid by Polish, US, and UK governments and others.

Earlier this week, Musk said that Starlink incurred $80m so far and asked Pentagon to foot the bill going forward: “SpaceX is not asking to recoup past expenses, but also cannot fund the existing system indefinitely *and* send several thousand more terminals that have data usage up to 100X greater than typical households. This is unreasonable,” he wrote.

Just two days later, however, the entrepreneur withdrew the request. “To be precise, 25,300 terminals were sent to Ukraine, but, at present, only 10,630 are paying for service,” Musk claimed.

Now the European Union is reportedly considering funding Starlink service in Ukraine and drawing a formal contract with Musk in order not to rely on the tycoon's good will.

Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis told Politico that Ukraine's access to the internet is too crucial to be left in the hands of a single “super-powerful” person who could “wake up one day and say, ‘This is no longer what I feel like doing and this is it.’ And the next day, Ukrainians might find themselves without the internet,” he argued.

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The difference between trading assets and CFDs
The main difference between CFD trading and trading assets, such as commodities and stocks, is that you don’t own the underlying asset when you trade on a CFD.
You can still benefit if the market moves in your favour, or make a loss if it moves against you. However, with traditional trading you enter a contract to exchange the legal ownership of the individual shares or the commodities for money, and you own this until you sell it again.
CFDs are leveraged products, which means that you only need to deposit a percentage of the full value of the CFD trade in order to open a position. But with traditional trading, you buy the assets for the full amount. In the UK, there is no stamp duty on CFD trading, but there is when you buy stocks, for example.
CFDs attract overnight costs to hold the trades (unless you use 1-1 leverage), which makes them more suited to short-term trading opportunities. Stocks and commodities are more normally bought and held for longer. You might also pay a broker commission or fees when buying and selling assets direct and you’d need somewhere to store them safely.
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