Macquarie Capital partners IIF to increase ownership stake in Voneus
Macquarie Capital’s Infrastructure Principal and Projects business now holds a majority stake in UK rural broadband business – Voneus.
Macquarie made an initial investment in Voneus back in August 2019 to help strengthen its management team and prepare for the move to fibre. This latest investment will support Voneus’ fibre roll-out project across rural areas of the UK.
“Voneus has always seen itself as the champion of rural broadband. We specialise in connecting those communities that are effectively off the grid. As we connect our first full fibre customers to our network, we do two things,” said Steve Leighton (pictured), chief executive officer of Voneus.
“One, we bring gigabit capable connectivity to a rural community and, two, we validate our fixed wireless access to full fibre model - which makes smaller-scale fibre investment sustainable. Macquarie and IIF recognise this and share our vision. We are absolutely delighted to be working with them.”
Full fibre installations have already begun at a number of Voneus’ existing communities including Buckland Dinham in Somerset and Dunton in South Bedfordshire.
Overall, the company aims to connect more than 100,000 rural homes to fibre and is also well positioned to participate in Project Gigabit and help deliver on the UK Government’s goal to ensure hard to reach rural areas can access superfast broadband.
"As we build back better from the pandemic, we want to future proof the UK with next-generation broadband. Last week we launched our record £5 billion Project Gigabit to make sure hard-to-reach homes and businesses don't miss out on gigabit speeds,” said Matt Warman, Minister for Digital Infrastructure.
“But we can't deliver this national broadband upgrade alone. Macquarie's investment in Voneus is great news for the UK's flourishing telecoms industry and for the rural communities currently struggling with slow speeds."
Voneus installs superfast Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) technology which can be deployed quickly and provides an attractive alternative to the much slower copper networks that rural homes and businesses often must rely on. Voneus then upgrades its FWA rural communities to future proof full fibre infrastructure.
“The start of roll-out of full fibre broadband to these rural communities demonstrates the success of the Voneus model in de-risking and speeding up fibre rollout to harder to reach communities,” added Oliver Bradley, a managing director at Macquarie Capital.
“We look forward to continuing to provide our development capabilities to support the management team in connecting further rural committees and helping unlock significant economic and social benefits for the UK.”
Macquarie Capital has also added the Israel Infrastructure Fund (IIF) to the investment consortium, capitalising on IIF’s experience as a lead investor in Unlimited, a wholesale fibre platform, which has rolled out fibre to more than 600,000 homes in Israel and aims to connect 1.7 million homes by 2024.
“We are delighted to be partnering with Macquarie Group,” said Yaron Kestenbaum, co-founder and managing partner of IIF.
“This investment is in line with IIF’s strategy to be a part of the digital infrastructure space, which is now widely regarded as an essential infrastructure asset – to be treated on par with utilities such as water, gas and electricity.”