Multi-million pound takeover deal for company at heart of Peterborough's high speed broadband network

The broadband company building a fibre optic network in Peterborough has agreed to a multi-million pound takeover.

Tuesday, 24th April 2018, 12:00 pm
Updated Tuesday, 24th April 2018, 12:11 pm
Mayor of Cambridgeshire & Peterborough James Palmer, left, and Peterborough City Council Leader Coun John Holdich, right, with Guilhem Poussot (Vodaphone), Andy Starnes (City Fibre) and Rob Hanalin (City Fibre) at the Gigabit City launch at Peterborough Town Hall.

CityFibre, which is investing nearly £40 million to bring superfast broadband speeds to homes and businesses across Peterborough, has accepted a £537.8 million takeoverby a consortium of investors backed by US banking giant Goldman Sachs.

CityFibre has been working in Peterborough for five years during which it has installed 120 kilometres of full-fibre cable used by 486 sites, including 150 businesses as well as schools, council offices, CCTV cameras and traffic signals.

It plans to start work next month on a £30 million venture to put down miles of full-fibre cables under pavements in most city streets to bring the offer of superfast broadband speeds to everry household in the city.

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The company has chosen Peterborough along with Milton Keynes and Aberdeen as the first of 12 towns and cities it plans to connect up to high speed broadband in partnership with mobile operator Vodafone.

Shares in CityFibre, which was founded by Greg Mesch in 2011 and floated on the stock market in 2014, jumped 90 per cent after the takover deal was unveiled.The takeover consortium includes private equity firm Antin's specialist infrastructure fund and Goldman Sachs' West Street Infrastructure Partners.Chris Stone, chairman of CityFibre, said: "CityFibre has established itself as a leading independent provider of wholesale fibre infrastructure in the UK and has been on a transformational journey since its IPO (initial public offering) in 2014."He added that the board believes the deal "represents compelling value for CityFibre's existing shareholders and is also a good solution for CityFibre's long-term funding".He said: "This will strengthen the company's ability to deliver on its vision to provide full fibre infrastructure to 20 per cent of the UK market."

In full-year results released alongside the deal, CityFibre reported an 80 per cent rise in underlying earnings to £4.5 million for 2017.Its revenues more than doubled to £34.8 million from £15.4 million the previous year. It also recorded pre-tax losses of £16.6 million from £12.6 million in 2016.CityFibre employs 303 full-time staff and was boosted by the acquisition of Entanet last year.