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Macquarie Capital Boost Investment in UK Broadband ISP Voneus

Thursday, March 25th, 2021 (10:57 am) - Score 600
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Fixed wireless and full fibre broadband ISP Voneus, which is now targeting future expansion into a potentially addressable market of 1.6 million UK homes (up from 900,000 previously), has announced that Macquarie Capital are increasing their ownership stake in the business and thus boosting their FTTP rollout.

Back in August 2019 Voneus announced that they had secured an initial commitment of £10m from Macquarie Capital, which included the potential to invest up to £30m in phases. Today’s announcement means that Macquarie Capital’s Infrastructure Principal and Projects business has now taken a majority shareholding in the UK rural broadband business (note: Macquarie also owns KCOM).

The additional investment will help to accelerate the provider’s efforts to bring “superfast” and “ultrafast” broadband to hard-to-reach rural communities, with a new “near term” target to connect 100,000 rural homes to fibre. The news has also been welcomed by the UK’s digital infrastructure minister, Matt Warman.

The first Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) installations have now begun at a number of long-standing Voneus communities, including Buckland Dinham, Great Elm and Mells in Somerset, and Dunton in South Bedfordshire. Some of these areas already had access to the provider’s fixed wireless (fwa) network, which is now been upgraded to full fibre.

Steve Leighton, CEO of Voneus, said:

“Voneus has always seen itself as the champion of rural broadband. We specialise in connecting those communities that are effectively off the grid. As we connect our first full fibre customers to our network, we do two things. One, we bring gigabit capable connectivity to a rural community and, two, we validate our fixed wireless access to full fibre model – which makes smaller-scale fibre investment sustainable. Macquarie and IIF recognise this and share our vision. We are absolutely delighted to be working with them”.

Oliver Bradley, MD of Macquarie Capital, said:

“The start of roll-out of full fibre broadband to these rural communities demonstrates the success of the Voneus model in de-risking and speeding up fibre rollout to harder to reach communities. We look forward to continuing to provide our development capabilities to support the management team in connecting further rural committees and helping unlock significant economic and social benefits for the UK.”

Macquarie Capital has also added the Israel Infrastructure Fund (IIF) to the investment consortium, to further accelerate Voneus’ growth. IIF has expertise gained from being a lead investor in Unlimited, a wholesale fibre platform, which has rolled out fibre to more than 600,000 homes in Israel and aims to connect 1.7 million homes by 2024. They will bring unique expertise to support Voneus’ future fibre deployment in the UK.

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