Warburg, DTCP in Community Fibre acquisition
July 30, 2020
By Colin Mann
Funds advised by private equity firm Warburg and DTCP, an investment management group specialised in technology growth equity and digital infrastructure, have reached an agreement to acquire a majority stake in London-focused full-fibre broadband provider Community Fibre, alongside its existing investors Amber Infrastructure and RPMI Railpen. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
Community Fibre says it is future-proofing London communities by delivering 1 Gbps of full-fibre broadband to households and up to 10 Gbps of full-fibre broadband to businesses, at what it says are the most competitive prices on the market.
Its mission is to empower communities through offering more reliable and affordable connections, and to make London a Gigafast city, a key UK government target, and now declares its ambitions to fibre-enable one million households by 2023, funded by the new shareholders, with a £400 million full-fibre expansion.
It says that unlike most other providers, it launches and operates its own dedicated 100 per cent full-fibre network, and that running fibre optic cable all the way into homes and business premises helps deliver maximum speed, reliability, and efficiency, with zero use of legacy copper.
According to Community Fibre, the market opportunity for Community Fibre is significant. Demand for high speed, high quality Internet to the home (FTTH) and to businesses (FTTB) is growing exponentially, yet a large proportion of the UK’s capital is offered some of the poorest and slowest broadband services in Europe.
“This is an exciting deal for Community Fibre,” said Graeme Oxby, CEO of Community Fibre. “Having Warburg Pincus and DTCP on board is a tremendous endorsement for our business. In a post Covid-19 world, digital connectivity will be more crucial than ever. With further new investment, we can work faster than ever to deliver 100 per cent full-fibre broadband to social housing residents and to local communities and their businesses across London.”
On completion of the transaction, expected within a few weeks, Olaf Swantee will join Community Fibre as Executive Chairman. Swantee was formerly CEO of Sunrise Communications, the second largest telecoms provider in Switzerland and CEO of EE.
“I am excited to be joining a business in a sector that I am passionate about, where there is a clear vision and purpose,” stated Swantee. “Working alongside blue chip investors such as Warburg Pincus, DTCP, Amber Infrastructure, and RPMI Railpen, will also open up new and exciting growth opportunities.”
Warburg Pincus has invested $4 billion behind a telecommunications and technology infrastructure investment thesis for more than 20 years. Recent examples include inexio in Germany, Converge ICT in the Philippines, INEA in Poland, America.Net in Brazil, Airtel in Africa, and Inmarsat in the UK.
“Community Fibre aims to close the digital divide and promote social inclusion,” commented Rene Obermann, Co-Head of Europe and Managing Director of Warburg Pincus Deutschland. “Affordable high speed Internet for London’s social housing, and free Gigafast connection to community centres and libraries will create limitless opportunities in education, recruitment, and training, with one click of a button.”
“Now, more than ever, we believe in a world where ubiquitous and affordable high speed connectivity helps society thrive,” added Vicente Vento, Co-Founder and CEO at DTCP. “We are looking forward to partnering with Community Fibre, together with Warburg Pincus, to support them on their mission to power communities with ultra-fast fibre connectivity across London.”
DTCP has been investing at the intersection of technology and digital infrastructure for years, including in very successful companies such as edge cloud company Fastly and tower infrastructure company, Swiss Towers.