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Management Buyout Hits Giggle’s Glasgow Focused Full Fibre Build

Friday, Dec 1st, 2023 (8:37 am) - Score 1,880
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One of the UK market’s youngest alternative network providers, Giggle, which was only in the early stages of investing “close to” £100m on the rollout of a new gigabit-capable full fibre broadband network across 300,000 premises in Glasgow (Scotland), appears to have experienced a management buyout.

Back in January 2023, when we first reported on Giggle (aka – Giggle Broadband and Giggle Fibre), we noted that being a new entrant in a market that was already under a lot of strain, which was also trying to build in a competitive urban area, carried a lot of risk and that viewpoint has only grown in strength over the past year. We’ve seen a rising number of network operators cutting jobs and slowing their fibre (FTTP) builds.

NOTE: Glasgow already has extensive gigabit broadband cover from Openreach and Virgin Media, while CityFibre and Hyperoptic also have significant coverage. Smaller deployments also exist from OFNL and FibreNest, while Netomnia are working just outside the city.

Just to recap. Giggle officially became a registered Scottish company in early August 2022 (SC740070). The provider, which initially had three Directors (most with experience in the fibre industry), stated that they were being backed by Triple Point‘s Digital 9 Infrastructure (DI9) fund and played host to an experienced CEO in David Axam.

According to the details we could find at the time. The build was due to start in early 2023 (live network tests were planned for spring 2023) and spanned across the city over the next 3 years (by spring 2026), focusing first on Social Housing. The LinkedIn profile for the company’s initial Director of Fibre Build, Greg Fleming (a familiar name – having held various senior engineering roles at Openreach), revealed further information.

According to Greg’s original profile, the build would span over 300,000 premises across Glasgow (the first phase would target 100,000) and their total investment in the city “will be close to£100m. “We will be directly employing up to 180 people to support our customers and network, with the majority in Glasgow. We will also have over 150 indirect employees building our network, again predominately in region,” said Greg.

What’s happened to Giggle?

Generally speaking, we haven’t heard much of anything new about Giggle since the original article was published (nearly a full year has now passed), which is unusual for a provider that was due to kick off its build many months ago. A quick look at Glasgow shows that only the usual suspects, particularly CityFibre, have any serious FTTP build activity in the city at the moment.

In addition, a number of Giggle’s initial build staff, including Build Director Greg Fleming, have over the past month begun to list themselves as being open to work on LinkedIn. The first part of the answer to this mystery can be found in D9’s latest financial results (here), which talks of a sale process following the investment group’s move to conduct a strategic review of their wider business.

Giggle Fibre Sale Process

Since July 2022, the Group has invested £4.3 million seed capital into Giggle, a development opportunity that provides affordable broadband to social housing through a revolutionary Fibre to the Home (“FTTH”) network across the city of Glasgow.

Due to its identified growth capital expenditure pipeline of c.£150 million for the 5-year period to 31 December 2027, the Group has engaged a TMT Investment Bank to lead a competitive process for either a full or majority sale of Giggle, however, due to its short cash runway, it is expected that the Group’s investment in Giggle will be wound down in Q4 2023 and as such a provision has been applied against the full value of Giggle. The impact of the provision on NAV is 0.5pps.

The latest development is that, over the past week or so, Giggle’s website has changed the company it was listing in the footer to a newly established one, based in London – GIGGLE HOLDINGS LIMITED (15302548). The new company is held by some of the original directors, such as CEO David Axam.

According to a separate report on TelcoTitans, the reason for this is that a management buyout of Giggle has just taken place. The move saves the company and its plan, at least for now, but in order to progress they’ll need to find a significant new source of funding. Not an easy thing to do in the current climate, particularly as a new entrant.

At the time of writing we don’t yet have a solid press contact for Giggle, although we have reached out through their generic email in the hope of getting a comment.

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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
2 Responses
  1. Avatar photo Scott says:

    Outside of the terrible name of the company, focussing on social housing isn’t a bad idea to build market share but it only works at scale. The secondary issue for Giggle is that it is trying to enter into a market that is already saturated across the Greater Glasgow area with multiple fibre providers/multiple big ISPs supplying services.

    All the best to them but i don’t see Giggle lasting.

  2. Avatar photo ZX spectrum says:

    Love the dig about linking

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