Macquarie Asset Management (MAM), through its Private Credit team, today announced that it has provided a €125m term loan to SIRO Limited, a Vodafone-backed broadband provider in Ireland, with the debt proceeds funding the expansion of SIRO’s fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) network and refinancing its existing debt.
Notably, Macquarie’s commitment represents the largest institutional component of SIRO’s €620m debt financing package, which was arranged by NatWest. Additionally, the European Investment Bank (EIB) has committed to €170m of the total debt financing.
SIRO – Macquarie Backs Ireland’s Fiber Broadband
SIRO was founded in 2015 as a €450m joint venture between Vodafone Ireland and Electricity Supply Board (ESB), an electric utility. The company is a broadband provider in Ireland with its fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) network passing 410k homes and businesses. Moreover, SIRO’s ongoing roll-out program expects to pass 450k premises in the near-term.
Presently, the company has laid 5.6k miles (9.1k kilometers) of fiber across Ireland. To deploy its fiber infrastructure, SIRO utilizes the electricity transmission network of ESB Networks.
Overall, SIRO’s fiber network will enable users to access speeds of up to 2 gigabits per second. To-date, these 2 gigabit per second services have only gone live in the city of Kilkenny, Ireland.
By 2026, SIRO plans to expand its wholesale-only fiber network to reach 770k homes and businesses across 154 regional towns and cities in Ireland. As such, over the next 4 years, SIRO is targeting an incremental 320k passings with its fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) network. Indeed, this implies a pacing of 80k fiber passings per year.
In terms of coverage, SIRO will increase its existing service availability from 64 towns to 154 towns across Ireland. Thus, the company is adding access for an incremental 90 towns on the SIRO network.
Open Access Wholesale Fiber Network
SIRO operates and builds an open access wholesale fiber network. Therefore, SIRO’s network is open to all internet service providers (ISPs) and carriers to offer broadband services to end users. Presently, SIRO’s broadband partners include Airwire, Digiweb, Pure Telecom, Sky, Viatel, and Vodafone, amongst others.
Including SIRO’s €620m debt financing and Macquarie’s commitment, the company’s total investment, since inception, in building its fiber network will amount to €1bn+. In turn, this implies that SIRO’s network build has a cost per passing of ~€1.3k.
Ireland – Fiber Availability and Penetration
In Ireland, just over 50% of homes and businesses have access to fiber, while ~13% have fiber connections.
Macquarie – Fiber Infrastructure Investments
Beyond SIRO, Macquarie, through its various investment strategies, has been investing considerably in the fiber sub-sector of digital infrastructure. Specifically, the firm has invested in Cincinnati Bell (United States), Onivia (Spain), Open Fiber (Italy), Vocus Group (Australia), and Voneus (UK).