CityFibre Infrastructure Holdings, a UK fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) overbuilder, has been named in press reports from the Wall Street Journal and Financial Times noting that the company is close to securing a £500m+ equity investment from a consortium including Mubadala Investment Company, Abu Dhabi’s sovereign wealth fund, and Interogo Holding, an investment vehicle for furniture company IKEA Group. Presently, CityFibre is owned by Antin Infrastructure Partners (Fund III) and West Street Infrastructure Partners, a fund managed by Goldman Sachs’ Merchant Banking Division, who both acquired the business in 2018 for £537.8m.
Overall, the minority investment from Mubadala and IKEA’s Interogo values CityFibre’s equity at £2bn ($2.7bn). Concurrently, CityFibre is also seeking to raise ~£500m in new debt. In turn, these equity and debt raises would give the company a total of ~£1bn in new capital to help accelerate its fiber broadband roll-out in the UK.
CityFibre – Scaling with Mubadala, IKEA’s Interogo
CityFibre is the largest alternative fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) provider in the UK, with its network spanning 60+ towns and cities in the UK. Presently, the company is pursuing a £4bn fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) deployment plan to bring its services to 285 towns and villages in the UK.
By year-end 2025, CityFibre intends for its fiber network to pass 8 million homes, 800k businesses, 400k public sector sites, and 250k 5G access points in the UK. In aggregate, CityFibre’s footprint will grow to 2.8k+ fiber route miles (4.5k+ fiber route kilometers). As shown below, CityFibre will be deploying a full fiber broadband network. This compares to certain of its competitors, which still rely on legacy copper or fiber-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) infrastructure.
As of March 2021, CityFibre’s fiber network passed ~650k homes. The company’s near-term intention is to reach 1+ million homes passed by Q3 2021.
Wholesale Fiber-to-the-Premises (FTTP)
CityFibre has wholesale agreements in-place with 14 internet service providers (ISPs) in the UK. Specifically, these agreements are with national ISPs Vodafone, TalkTalk, and Zen Internet, which have made long-term commitments of both residential and business customers. Additionally, CityFibre has signed contracts with 11 ISPs including Air Broadband, Highnet, Triangle Networks, Trunk Networks, Giganet, Quickline, and purebroadband.
Notably, in March 2020, CityFibre acquired FibreNation for £213m, securing TalkTalk as an anchor tenant, as part of the transaction.
CityFibre has a contract in-place with wireless carrier Three UK (CK Hutchison) to bring fiber-to-the-tower (FTTT) to Three’s cellular sites in UK cities outside London. As a result, CityFibre’s backhaul connectivity is supporting Three UK’s roll-out of 5G across the country.
In 2020, CityFibre reported revenue of £63.1m ($85.7m), a 9% increase year-over-year, and an adjusted EBITDA loss of £30m ($40.7m), versus an adjusted EBITDA loss of £8.4m in 2019.
CityFibre states that its average build cost is ~£500 for each home or business it passes. Indeed, this compares to BT Group which has stated an average build cost between £300 and £400 for each passing.
Competitors in UK Fiber-to-the-Premises (FTTP) – CityFibre
CityFibre’s competitors include BT Group (Openreach), Virgin Media O2, Hyperoptic, Gigaclear, KCOM, Community Fibre, and G.Network. Also, recently announced Upp Corporation, which is backed by Mikhail Fridman’s LetterOne, plans to deploy fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) networks in the UK. Below is further detail on two of the largest ongoing fiber build-outs in the UK:
BT Group (Openreach)
BT Group is building fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP), through Openreach, to 25 million homes and businesses across the UK by December 2026. Additionally, the company is exploring joint venture structures, with external parties, to fund a portion of this fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) build-out.
Virgin Media O2 (Liberty Global and Telefónica)
As of Q2 2021, Virgin Media O2 passes 15.5 million households in the UK with a combination of network technologies. During 2021, Virgin Media O2 announced its intention to upgrade this fixed network to full fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) by year-end 2028.
Mubadala Investment Company – Digital Infrastructure
Beyond CityFibre, Mubadala Investment Company has experience investing in both the fiber and data center sub-sectors of digital infrastructure. Specifically, Mubadala’s prior digital infrastructure investments include:
- Hyperoptic: invested in the UK fiber broadband provider, a CityFibre competitor, in 2018. Subsequently, Mubadala sold its interest in Hyperoptic to KKR in 2019
- Cologix: data center operator received a $500m equity commitment from Mubadala in September 2019. Notably, Cologix’s controlling shareholder is Stonepeak Infrastructure
- Khazna Data Centers: wholesale data center operator in the United Arab Emirates (UAE)