Space internet business AST SpaceMobile hires CLO

Andrew Johnson joins from 3D Systems, replacing outgoing GC Brian Heller

AST SpaceMobile plans to offer broadband services from space Shutterstock

US-listed space-based internet services business AST SpaceMobile has hired Andrew Johnson as chief legal officer, replacing outgoing general counsel Brian Heller.

Johnson joins from 3D printer manufacturer 3D Systems Corporation, where he was also CLO. He brings with him almost a quarter of a century of legal experience including M&A, strategic partnerships, securities law, contracts, litigation and employment matters. He will provide legal and strategic guidance to the company as it embarks on its next phase of growth.

Texas-based AST SpaceMobile is building a cellular broadband network in space designed to be accessed by a normal smartphone.

Abel Avellan, founder, chairman and CEO of AST SpaceMobile, said: “Andrew is a strong addition to our executive team. His legal expertise and proven leadership will greatly support our mission to bridge the connectivity gaps affecting billions of mobile subscribers worldwide, as we continue to innovate and expand.”

Johnson arrives after almost 18 years at 3D Systems, the last 12 of them as CLO. He originally joined as assistant GC and has also held interim CEO and interim chief financial officer roles. Prior to his in-house career, Johnson spent just over four years as an associate at Hunton & Williams.

He said: “I look forward to contributing to our strategic objectives and refining our legal and corporate frameworks as we continue to set new standards in the telecommunications industry and shape the future of global connectivity.”

Heller, meantime, exits the role after just over three years with the company. Avellan thanked Heller for his “dedication and contributions” during his tenure. 

He joined as GC in February 2021 from US investment bank and brokerage Ladenburg Thalmann, where he spent more than 13 years as senior vice president of business and legal affairs. He was also previously GC at Castle Brands and associate GC at AOL Latin America. He started his legal career in private practice as an associate at Paul Weiss before moving to Steel Hector & Davis, where he became a partner in 1999.

In other space industry-related legal moves, last October US space services company SCOUT Space appointed former Raytheon lawyer Philip Hover-Smoot as GC. And in June last year, former Space X lawyer and Stellar Ventures venture capital fund co-founder David Anderman joined US electric aviation business Surf Air Mobility as CLO.

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