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Agnar UK Infrastructure Take Control of Full Fibre Provider Trooli

Monday, Apr 10th, 2023 (11:18 am) - Score 5,888
Trooli-Office-Room

A recent update to the Companies House records for broadband ISP Trooli, which was rolling out a new gigabit-capable Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) network across parts of England and recently became the subject of various takeover talks, has confirmed that a new company called Agnar UK Infrastructure Ltd has taken significant control (75%+) of the business.

Just to recap. Trooli was previously supported by an investment of €30m from the Connecting Europe Broadband Fund (Cube Infrastructure Managers) and £5m from NatWest. But this was given a boost in 2021 by a new £67.5m debt facility agreement via a consortium of commercial lenders, facilitated by the CEBF (here).

The operator had been busy building their new full fibre network to serve a sizeable number of towns and villages in Derbyshire, Kent, East Sussex, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Cambridgeshire, Hampshire and Suffolk. The initial goal had been to reach 400,000 premises across around 300 towns and villages by Dec 2022, but the last figure we had was 275,000 passed in August 2022 and even that seems a little high (but we think they are closer to 200k in Ready for Service terms).

However, in order to keep going, Trooli needed more money, which is something that they had struggled to secure. Questions also surround how much take-up their network had been able to generate. In short, the operator has recently become the subject of intense speculation around the possibility of an equity sale, merger, or takeover by a rival provider.

Most recently, the FT reported that Paris-headquartered Vauban Infrastructure Partners and Axione, a Vauban-backed company, were in discussions to acquire Trooli too. The latest official update on Companies House, which was spotted by one of our readers (here), reveals that a brand-new company called Agnar UK Infrastructure Ltd has now officially taken control of the business. Agnar UK has two French directors, both of which are connected to Vauban partners. All Trooli’s original UK Directors have now resigned.

Exact details of the agreement have not yet been revealed, although some previous reports suggested that Trooli’s network could be worth around £100m. Similarly, it is unclear whether the provider’s original ambition, which saw them aiming to reach 1 million UK premises by the end of 2024, is still intact. But given that Trooli’s build phase has been somewhat paused for a few months, and such things can be tricky to restart, then the provider’s ambitions may face some delay.

We have reached out to Trooli for a comment, but given that it’s Easter, we don’t expect to hear back immediately.

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Mark-Jackson
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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Comments
12 Responses
  1. Avatar photo Reality Bytes says:

    The most recent 3 articles on the site are interesting. A pretty small, rural-focused altnet announcing increased build, a large, well funded urban-focused altnet building to some competitive areas and the distressed acquisition of Trooli.

    I imagine they were about to breach the terms of their 2021 financing agreement and had slowed build to preserve what cash they had to keep the lights on in the office.

    Their numbers are extremely problematic. The work required on their network just to bring RFS the allegedly passed premises isn’t insignificant.

    1. Avatar photo Andrew G says:

      Emperor’s new clothes, I think you and I agree. PE investors always behave like kids with free money in a sweet shop. This particular bubble-in-the-making is about FTTP. The narrative for the PE houses is that every household now needs gigabit connectivity, that infrastructure is a sure fire bet, that semi-regulated infrastructure is a safe money spinner, that there’s always going to be rich pension funds looking to take infrastructure assets off the PE houses hands, that first provider has some enduring market advantage.

      Looks like Cube woke up and smelled some very strong coffee, yet did so in time to bail out but still cover the debt and their investment (depending on Trooli’s accrued losses). Meanwhile over at VIP, some smarmy graduate who manages a team of five but styles himself a “managing director” is preening himself, telling his bosses that he’s bought this amazing distressed asset, it’s a sure fire thing, and VIP can make out like bandits because it’s a growth play, and customers will have no option but to pay the asked price for the gigabit fibre that only Trooli can provide.

    2. Avatar photo Alex A says:

      To be fair Trooli got in there early and kept a low price per premises (between £170 and £300). They also went for places where their competition is FTTC and avoiding VM, meanwhile other altnets are going into areas with 3-4 total networks.

      Their issue is running out of cash while a significant number of their passed premises are not ready for service. Getting bought by an investor isn’t necessarily a bad thing if the investor is willing to pay to get the remaining properties ready for service. What’s more interesting is if the current bosses remain.

    3. Avatar photo Reality Bytes says:

      The idea they had many premises ready for service at £170 each is difficult to accept.

      That’s about what Hyperoptic quoted for their costs for exclusively apartments and the vast majority of what Trooli serves is SDUs.

      I suspect that number goes alongside their claimed premises passed versus ready for service in the ‘interesting’ category.

    4. Avatar photo Andrew G says:

      Alex A: “Their issue is running out of cash while a significant number of their passed premises are not ready for service. Getting bought by an investor isn’t necessarily a bad thing if the investor is willing to pay to get the remaining properties ready for service. What’s more interesting is if the current bosses remain.”

      Well, running out of cash in a startup build because you didn’t convert opportunities to actual paying customers is the most basic failure of business planning. That really says the company were run on a wing and a prayer, and brings into question the whole business model, and anything that’s been claimed by the company. We know the founders of Trooli have moved on, but possibly the business competence issue is deeper than that.

      As for investors, every company is investor owned. What’s happened is Trooli’s original investors got frightened and have sold on to secondary investors. Makes you wonder if Cube knew something that VIP didn’t. Cube aren’t a major player in private equity, but they’d have had no problem finding another few hundred million if there were the investment case.

      My own experience (in the software sector) is that fast growing companies with hands-on directors pushing for more growth at all costs can have more skeletons in their cupboards than a plague graveyard.

    5. Avatar photo FibreBubble says:

      I reckon many of their builds have taken an age to go live as they PIA their own links between towns. I’ve seen them take some horrific routes where they clearly haven’t looked at the duct plans very carefully.

  2. Avatar photo FibreBubble says:

    Hope Mr Conibere got a few bob out of it. Call Flow were broadband pioneers with their wireless and sub loop unbundling services.

    1. Avatar photo FibreBubble says:

      Trooli Debtco, Midco and Topco have all changed their company names to Whippet today.

  3. Avatar photo TrooliPoorly says:

    I never understand why you put Full Fibre Provider in the headlines. This is an industry specific website and we all know who they are.

    1. Avatar photo anonymous says:

      But search engines aren’t so context aware as regular readers, and since we’re not paying to read ISP Review, it’s important for the site’s owners that traffic is as high as possible whilst still having an interest in the subject matter.

      With respect, if you’re sufficiently tech and telecoms industry aware to know who the altnet players are, surely you can work that out for yourself?

    2. Mark-Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      It’s both about handing context to search engines and also to end-users, since there are lots of different broadband technologies, and it’s important to distinguish them as part of the content. Not every visitor is tech-savvy, which is why I try to keep the articles here as readable as possible for a wider audience.

  4. Avatar photo Cheesemp says:

    Trooli have half installed in my town. Some roads are enabled and activating customers but many including mine are not. Giganet (and maybe VM) are also installing – be interesting to see who is first in my road. My FTTC connection is on a long line so I’ve been watching and waiting patiently for over a year when Trooli started installing.

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