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Macquarie Finalise £627m Gobble of ISP KCOM in East Yorkshire UK

Monday, Aug 19th, 2019 (10:00 am) - Score 2,060

Macquarie Infrastructure (MIRA / MEIF 6 Fibre) has today confirmed that they’ve finalised their £627m acquisition of Hull and East Riding’s (East Yorkshire) incumbent broadband ISP KCOM. The new owner intends to expand the provider’s “full fibre” (FTTP) network, hopefully starting with the c.9,000 that have been missed.

The deal itself was announced last month after a short bidding war (here), which saw Macquarie up their original bid from £563m to £627m and beat off competition from rival Humber Bidco. The focus will now turn toward KCOM’s future and Macquarie has made no secret of their desires on that front.

The operator recently hailed completion of its £85mLightstream” project (here), which aside from a few unserved areas has made their 1Gbps capable Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) broadband network available to around 96% of the operator’s addressable network area (195,000 premises). The remaining 4% have gained 75Mbps capable Fibre-to-the-Cabinet (FTTC) technology but we suspect they too will eventually go FTTP.

Macquarie has already said that they intend to expand KCOM’s “fibre network beyond the current footprint” and make it available via more third-party ISPs (they’ll need to come up with a better wholesale proposition first), which is very roughly reaffirmed by today’s announcement.

Leigh Harrison, Head of MIRA EMEA, said:

“We are delighted to have finalised the acquisition of KCOM. We are looking forward to working closely with KCOM’s management team and workforce to increase fibre accessibility and reduce digital exclusion in the region. By investing to develop and expand KCOM’s networks, we hope to deliver the infrastructure that will underpin growth and innovation in East Yorkshire.”

Graham Sutherland, CEO of KCOM, said:

“We are pleased to be partnering with an investor that has deep, global expertise in our industry. We are confident that Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets will support our long-term growth ambitions whilst helping us maintain our strong local focus and presence.”

The announcement notes that KCOM’s voice and broadband service currently connects approximately 140,000 households and businesses via its FTTP network, which isn’t entirely correct as they’ve neglected to mention that this figure appears to include their copper-line based services too (note: not everybody within their network has upgraded to the new fibre-based packages yet but take-up is good).

The last set of results in July 2019 noted that they had 121,000 CONSUMER broadband (copper and fibre) customers or 85,000 when only looking at “fibre broadband” (we’re not sure if the latter is just FTTP or FTTC + FTTP). On top of that they serve around 5,900 business “fibre broadband” sites, which makes for a total of 126,900 broadband customers or 91,400 on fibre-based lines.

KCOM’s results announcement also confirmed something we touched on a few months ago, which concerns the areas that they’ve yet to reach with FTTP. “We have now completed the rollout of fibre across our existing network, passing all properties we are able to pass … However, there are c.9,000 premises where third party permission is required (for example to access multi-dwelling units and private land) that will delay fibre availability for those premises,” said KCOM (i.e. the fibre may be in the area but they haven’t yet been able to access the buildings in order to connect them).

We suspect that the new owner’s first port of call will be to expand FTTP into the patches that have yet to be fully connected and possibly also replace some of that initial FTTC with full fibre too, although their exact plans have yet to be set out in public.

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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4 Responses
  1. Avatar photo A_Builder says:

    It will be interesting to see what is done here as it will have implications for both VM and OR.

    Implications in wholesale for VM

    Implications in valuing the FTTP network for OR. Only comparable once OR does the final drops.

    Essentially what is here is a fully fledged micro experiment for how this can be handled over the UK.

  2. Avatar photo Matthew says:

    Hull is certainly an interesting experiment if they extend outside of Hull for certain hopefully they convert last 4% of there network to Fibre I had always hoped there would one day be a solid competitor to KCOM in Hull but think the chance has gone now.

    1. Avatar photo CarlT says:

      ‘The bank has withdrawn around £1.2billion in dividends during that time, while driving up Thames’s debt from £1.6billion to £10billion.

      This cash has been used to fund a £1billion-a-year spending spree on treatment plants and tunnels, as well as a drive to reduce leakage.’

      So they’ve spent a load of money upgrading the network as required by the regulator. Hardly a ‘spending spree’.

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