Equitix, an infrastructure private equity firm, today announced that it has made an initial £84m ($106m USD) minority equity investment into Freedom Fibre Limited, a UK fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) alternative network operator in North West England, which has backing from TalkTalk. Additionally, Freedom Fibre has secured a £16m ($20m USD) debt facility from Santander UK. In turn, the company has gained a total commitment of £100m ($126m USD) in funding to accelerate its fiber roll-out in North West England.
Prior to Equitix’s investment in Freedom Fibre, TalkTalk Telecom Group held between 25% and 50% of Freedom Fibre’s shares and voting rights. Also, Nick Gunga, Chief Operating Officer of TalkTalk sits on Freedom Fibre’s board of directors.
Freedom Fibre – Overview
Freedom Fibre is headquartered in Manchester, England and currently offers high-speed broadband services to almost 20k homes across parts of Cheshire and Greater Manchester. More specifically, the company is serving the towns and villages of Acton Bridge, Burtonwood, Croft, Culcheth, Earlestown, Glazebury, Irlam, Leigh, Newton-le-Willows, Stockton Heath, Weaverham, Whitchurch, and Winwick.
By the end of 2022, Freedom Fibre expects to reach 70k premises with fiber. In doing so, the company serves UK homes with high-speed broadband, delivering speeds of 1 gigabit per second (Gbps) over its fiber network.
With the £100m of proceeds from Equitix and Santander, Freedom Fibre will continue its fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) roll-out, which is predominantly implemented through the installation of fiber across BT Group’s existing ducts and poles. Ultimately, the company seeks to pass over 2 million premises in North West England.
Freedom Fibre has a wholesale agreement in-place with TalkTalk to use its fiber-optic connections. As such, the deal enables TalkTalk to offer high-speed broadband services to consumers in semi-urban areas, in North West England, via Freedom Fibre’s network infrastructure. In turn, Freedom Fibre expects to increase its customer penetration rate.
Furthermore, Freedom Fibre is seeking to add other broadband service providers over time as it scales.
Freedom Fibre is led by its founder Neil McArthur as CEO and Darren Woods as CFO. Previously, McArthur founded Opal Telecom, which led to the creation of TalkTalk Telecom. At TalkTalk, McArthur oversaw the roll-out TalkTalk’s nationwide broadband footprint.
Transaction Advisors – Equitix, Freedom Fibre
Freedom Fibre’s financial advisor was Oakley Advisory. Additionally, Freedom Fibre’s legal advisor was Addleshaw Goddard.
Equitix – Overview
Equitix is an investor, developer, and long-term fund manager of core infrastructure assets. Beyond Freedom Fibre, Equitix has made a £75m equity investment into UK internet service provider (ISP) Grain Connect.