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Community Fibre raises funding to £1.3 billion with new loans

Olaf Swantee Warburg Pincus.jpg

Community Fibre, which is building fibre networks in London and the south-east of England, has raised £985 million in loans, on top of the £400 million announced two years ago.

The company, which is mainly serving apartment blocks and similar estates, has not replied to Capacity’s questions about where the loans are coming from.

Funding so far available to the company is thus more than £1.3 billion.

Community Fibre, which was advised by Rothschild & Co, said that the £985 million is made up from £685 million committed facilities, expandable by a further £300 million – a device known in the finance industry as an “uncommitted accordion”.

Olaf Swantee, chairman of Community Fibre, who came on board in 2020 with the last fundraising, said: “The lenders and our shareholders share the view that Community Fibre’s momentum will further strengthen its position as the best and largest FTTH provider in London.”

The July 2020 £400 million came from Deutsche Telekom Capital Partners (DTCP) and Warburg Pincus, which joined two existing investors, Amber Infrastructure and railway pension fund RPMI Railpen.

Swantee, former CEO of Orange, EE and Sunrise, is a strategic adviser to Warburg Pincus. He is also chairman of T-Mobile Netherlands.

Graeme Oxby, CEO of Community Fibre, said: “We are delighted that lenders have seen the impact of our ever increasing network and the level of customer interest in faster, more reliable and more affordable broadband access.”

Community Fibre says that it has 675,000 homes in London and the south-east of England that are ready for service – “homes passed” in the cable TV industry’s terms. It offers fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) connections at up to 10Gbps.

But it does not say how many of those are connected. Community Fibre charges £25 a month for 1Gbps in the areas it serves, in London boroughs from Barking and Dagenham in the east, Barnet in the north, Kingston upon Thames in the south-west to Bromley in the south-east of the capital.

In August 2021 the company became a shareholder in Box Broadband, which is building in rural areas south and west of London. Swantee and Oxby are both now directors of Box Broadband. At the end of 2021 Box valued its assets at just £6.4 million.