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CityFibre scores extra £1bn+ of funding to plumb in up to 8 million British homes by 2025

Ikea parent Interogo Holding among the investors

Full-fibre network operator CityFibre has grabbed £1.125bn in financing to help support its plan to wire up to eight million homes in the UK.

The funding is made up of £825m of equity from new investors – Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth fund, Mubadala Investment Co, and Interogo Holding, a private equity investor best known for owning flat-packed furniture maker Ikea.

CityFibre's coffers are swelled still further with a £300 million extension to its banking facilities.

The financing – which it claims is the largest capital raised that's earmarked specifically for full-fibre deployment in the UK – will be used to fund its rollout to a third of the UK market by 2025.

The cableco's wholesale network currently supports 24 smaller regional consumer ISPs as well as 1,800 business ISPs and resellers with services now live in 46 locations.

Plus, it's already secured long-term volume commitments from Vodafone, TalkTalk, and Zen – as well as mobile operator 3UK – as it seeks to hook up eight million homes in 285 locations.

In a statement, Greg Mesch, CEO at CityFibre, described the investment as "proof of the benefits of a truly competitive infrastructure market as envisaged by both Government and Ofcom."

The announcement – which received vocal support from mop-haired British Prime Minister Boris Johnson – is likely to be viewed with some interest by competitively minded customers of Openreach and Virgin Media, both of which are busy rolling out their own networks.

Openreach has set its sights on plumbing in 25 million homes and businesses with full-fibre by the end of 2026. So far this year, it's connected around 760,000 premises and is currently adding around 44,000 connections a week. This takes its total full-fibre footprint so far to 5.4 million with an expectation to hit 7.6 million by March 2022.

In July, Virgin Media O2 said it planned to upgrade some 15.5 million homes and businesses to full-fibre by 2028. Earlier this week it responded to a report that the UK is a fibre slowcoach saying: "We are the largest gigabit broadband provider in the UK and will connect our entire network of more than 15 million homes to gigabit speeds by the end of the year."

For its part, London-based CityFibre – which is jointly controlled by Antin Infrastructure Partners and West Street Infrastructure Partners – is working with 25 construction companies to carry out the civil engineering work necessary to install its symmetrical gigabit speed network.

According to Ofcom's latest figures, in May 2021, 24 per cent of the UK had access to full fibre broadband. ®


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