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ZenFi to go underground as BAI plans takeover

Ray LaChance NEW .jpg

BAI Communications, the acquisitive company that runs networks in a number of underground rail networks around the world, is to buy New York’s ZenFi Networks.

Neither BAI nor ZenFi are listed companies, so the price has not been stated. ZenFi, founded in 2013, is backed by private equity.

Ray LaChance (pictured), co-founder and CEO of ZenFi Networks, said: “The natural alignment between our business and BAI’s North American operations unlocks a range of opportunities to extend the services and support that we are providing our customers, positioning the business to increase its scale and leadership in connected infrastructure delivery.”

ZenFi operates fibre and wireless infrastructure – including small cells – and network colocation facilities across the New York and New Jersey metro areas.

Four years ago it bought Cross River Fiber – not connected with Crosslake Fibre – to expand its services in the region.

Toronto-based BAI Communications has been majority owned by Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPP Investments) since 2009. It provides mobile coverage for the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC), Hong Kong’s Mass Transit Railway (MTR) and the New York subway – via Transit Wireless – and has recently been building networks and a data centre for the London Underground.

It’s also been acquisitive in the US: last year it bought Mobilitie, bringing a portfolio of 220 venues across 39 US states; 10,000 small cells across 45 states; and 300 tower sites across 14 states to BAI’s operations.

In February it announced a start-up in Italy, to introduce neutral host connected infrastructure.

Igor Leprince, group CEO of BAI Communications, described ZenFi Networks as “a long established and high performing player in the wireless infrastructure sector”.

He said that “bringing it into the BAI Group is an important step forward in our ongoing push for growth in North America and globally”.

He said the acquisition will bring short-term enhancements to regional operations in the north-eastern US, “further extending the reach of current solutions and expertise we have and building on our vision to assist our customers in delivering an enhanced experience at all points of their customers’ journey, from subway to above ground and from work to home”. But, he added, “this also positions us perfectly to support the increasing appetite for connectivity among businesses across North America”.

ZenFi brings into the mix the rights to provide mobile infrastructure solutions across 4,000 LinkNYC kiosk structures across the city. The acquisition will also bring over 1,100 route miles of fibre network across the New York and New Jersey metro region, as well as unique cloud RAN solutions and a number of existing customer contracts with enterprise and mobile network operators.

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