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KCOM Owner Macquarie to Break Up Business – Focus on Core

Tuesday, May 12th, 2020 (3:58 pm) - Score 2,591

Last year’s £627m takeover of Hull’s incumbent telecoms and broadband ISP, KCOM, by Macquarie Infrastructure (here) has taken another twist. Reports claim that the new owners may now look to carve up the business in order to focus on its core network and expansion across East Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire.

At the time of Macquarie’s acquisition KCOM had just finished a major £85m project to deploy a new 1Gbps capable Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) broadband network across virtually their entire patch (c.200,000 premises) in East Yorkshire.

Since that deal the new owners have also committed another £100m to help expand KCOM’s “full fibre” network into “tens of thousands more homes and businesses” across both East Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire (here and here). Improved wholesale access for third-party ISPs and faster upload speeds may also be on the cards in the not too distant future.

However it’s easy to forget that KCOM also includes some legacy operations – excluding their UK fibre network that was sold to Cityfibre in 2015 (here) – from a failed attempt to take their brand national (e.g. we think this may also include the remnants of UK ISP Eclipse Internet), which provided business and public sector connectivity but ultimately flopped.

According to the FT (paywall), Macquarie has now restructured KCOM’s non-Hull units and hired Oakley Advisory to explore a potential sale. But a final decision seems unlikely to be taken until later this year (i.e. after the COVID-19 crisis has hopefully stopped sucking so much oxygen out of the economy). The report suggests that the operator had tried to flog this before for c.£200m but didn’t get any bites.

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