Shareholders of US satellite group Viasat have approved the $7.3bn takeover of UK maritime communications company Inmarsat that was announced six months ago.

The takeover, which gives Inmarsat shareholders ownership of 37.5% of Viasat, is expected to close in the second half of this year, the US group said.

The merger is still subject to some regulatory approvals and the satisfaction of other closing conditions.

Viasat said the combination will create a global communications innovator with enhanced scope able to connect the world, and can increase the pace of innovation to drive new and better services.

The deal makes sense for Viasat, as it fills a shipping hole in its satellite communications networks, according to analysts. Its main strengths lie in residential, aviation and defence markets.

When announced in November, some commentators thought the bid could unleash a rival challenge for Inmarsat or other industry consolidation, as the industry was seen as fragmented and grappling with the high costs of adopting new technologies that are likely to command lower prices as capacity expands.

Operators of geostationary orbit satellites, such as Inmarsat, are coming under greater competition from new low earth orbit network providers that are building hundreds of cheaper satellites that operate closer to the earth.

Viasat chief executive Richard Baldridge described the approval as an important milestone in completing its acquisition of Inmarsat.

“The overwhelming support of our shareholders confirms that this transformative combination is in the best interests of our company, shareholders, and allows for significant future growth in revenue, Ebitda and free cash flow,” he said.