Community Fibre moves to the countryside with Box deal
Community Fibre has made its first move outside London by taking a majority stake in Box Broadband, operating in Surrey and West Sussex, to the south-west of the UK capital.
Neither Community Fibre nor its shareholders Warburg Pincus, Deutsche Telekom Capital Partners, Amber Infrastructure and Railpen, have disclosed the price.
Graeme Oxby (pictured), CEO of Community Fibre, said: “Box Broadband has already established itself as a provider of fast and reliable trusted services to communities in Surrey and West Sussex that are underserved from a speed perspective.”
Warburg Pincus and its partners invested in Community Fibre in July 2020, with the aim of spending £400 million to offer 1Gbps of fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) and up to 10Gbps of full-fibre broadband to businesses in London. The investors put in as executive chairman Olaf Swantee, former CEO of UK mobile operator EE and later of Swiss operator Sunrise. It now offers speeds up to 3Gbps to its London customers.
Community Fibre said this morning that Box Broadband has passed 7,000 homes in its region. “The majority investment from Community Fibre will support an accelerated network roll-out to 200,000 homes across the south of England by 2024,” said a statement from Community Fibre.
Until now Community Fibre has focused on multi-dwelling units in London and the suburbs, so this investment makes a significant change in its strategy.
Box Broadband appears to be named after Christopher Paul Box, who resigned as a director in June 2020. Box is now the sole director of CGB Networks, incorporated in May 2021 with £1 share capital and described as involved in “construction of utility projects for electricity and telecommunications”.
Community Fibre said that, “through the acquisition of Box Broadband, [it] will continue its mission to close the digital divide and promote social inclusion by bringing connectivity to rural areas underserved by the existing large ISPs”.
Oxby said: “We will be able to support Box Broadband’s ambitious growth plans and provide the operational experience, as well as technical and commercial knowledge of best practice and purchasing scale in order to build quickly and efficiently.”
The new investor said that Graham Sargood will continue as CEO of Box Broadband. He said: “We are delighted to receive investment from Community Fibre who has established itself as champions for the many underserved communities in London. With their investment and operational scale, we will be able to quickly ramp up our build and provide high speed and affordable services to many more customers in our target areas.”
According to his LinkedIn profile, Sargood has been CEO since February 2019. He previously worked at Sky and Cable & Wireless Communications.