NEW YORK – Mr Elon Musk’s SpaceX has initiated discussions about selling insider shares at a price that values the closely held company at US$175 billion (S$235 billion) or more, according to people familiar with the matter.
The most valuable US start-up is discussing a tender offer that could range from US$500 million to US$750 million, said some of the people. SpaceX is weighing offering shares at about US$95 apiece, the people said.
Terms and the size of the tender offer could change depending on interest from both insider sellers and buyers.
A US$175 billion valuation is a premium to the US$150 billion valuation the company obtained through a tender offer this summer.
The increase would make SpaceX one of the world’s 75 biggest companies by market capitalisation, on par with T-Mobile USA (US$179 billion), Nike (US$177 billion) and China Mobile (US$176 billion), according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Representatives for SpaceX did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The company dominates the market for commercial space launch services with its Falcon rockets.
SpaceX also sends payloads to orbit for private sector customers, as well as for the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa) and other government agencies.
SpaceX also operates its Internet-from-space Starlink service, anchored by a growing constellation of satellites in low-Earth orbit.
Starlink successfully completed nine months of US military tests in the Arctic, potentially clearing the way for Mr Musk to deepen his ties with the Pentagon in a region of growing strategic competition.
The previously undisclosed testing found that StarLink to be a “reliable and high-performance communications system in the Arctic, including on-the-move applications”, Dr Brian Beal, principal engineer with the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Integrated Capabilities Directorate, said in a statement on Dec 6.
The exercises, which ended in June, evaluated Starlink’s usefulness for the Pentagon’s needs, according to Dr Beal.
The testing suggests that Starlink has the potential to become a crucial asset in what is becoming an increasingly important area of competition with Russia and China, which have both sought to expand their influence in the Arctic.
But the region’s rough climate and remoteness limit communications through existing military satellites.
That is where the portable Starlink terminals come in as a possible solution.
The Air Force also continues to evaluate the London-based Eutelsat OneWeb, which has a few more months of Arctic testing to go, Dr Beal said.
The potential Arctic contracts would add to a burgeoning space portfolio for SpaceX, even as Mr Musk has become more embroiled in controversy over his management of social media company X, formerly Twitter, endorsement of an anti-Semitic post and a subsequent ad boycott.
The test results allow for potential Space Force contracts with SpaceX issued by its Commercial Satcom Office.
Starlink and OneWeb series “are now available for procurement”, said Dr Beal.
“We have made the results of the Arctic experiments available to many parties within the Air Force,” he said.
Dr Jonathan McDowell, an astronomer and astrophysicist at the Harvard–Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, said SpaceX already has 233 satellites in polar orbit. There are more than 5,000 Starlink satellites overall. BLOOMBERG