London, 05 August 2019
Macquarie Capital, the corporate advisory, capital markets and principal investment arm of Macquarie Group (Macquarie), is to invest in rural superfast broadband business Voneus Limited (Voneus), with an initial commitment of £10m and the potential to invest up to £30m in phases. Proceeds will be used to refinance debt and support the roll out of further high-speed broadband to communities in rural parts of the UK.
Only five percent of UK homes have access to full fibre infrastructure, Voneus will focus on the up to 900,000 homes across the UK countryside who still don’t have access to Superfast broadband services.
Since its establishment in 2015, Voneus has installed superfast broadband in around 4,000 homes and businesses in 25 rural communities with a footprint that covers Lancashire and Yorkshire as well as the Cotswolds and Devon. The business has a robust pipeline of future projects which will be supported by ongoing investment from Macquarie Capital.
The business uses Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) technology to quickly provide superfast broadband (30 to 50 Mbps) to rural homes and businesses. FWA provides an attractive alternative to the traditional copper networks that rural homes and businesses often have to rely on. The business specializes in non-intrusive technology which has been installed on churches, listed buildings, in natural beauty spots and conservation areas.
FWA provides an immediate solution to poor broadband. However, Voneus now intends, with Macquarie Capital’s support, to connect its more established communities to full fibre broadband, enabling rural homes and businesses to receive up to 1 GBs of reliable, consistent, ultrafast connectivity.
Currently, many rural communities rely on slow fixed-line services due to the high investment costs of delivering fibre to homes in many parts of the countryside. Research by Rural England and Scotland’s Rural College has found that rural companies could add up to £26 billion a year to the economy if their digital capability was fulfilled.1
Steve Leighton, CEO of Voneus commented: “Macquarie Capital’s backing is a huge endorsement of Voneus’ business model and vision, as well as an indication of how much work still needs to be done to connect the many homes and business across the UK that still do not have access to decent broadband services.”
“Not only will it help us speed up the rollout of fixed wireless services in hard-to-reach communities, it means that – longer term – we will be able to add full fibre broadband to our portfolio; this will be a complete game-changer for these hitherto neglected areas.”
Macquarie has had a presence in the UK for 30 years, opening its London headquarters in 1989. Today, Macquarie is one of the largest investors in the UK, having invested and arranged more than £40 billion in infrastructure projects since 2005. Macquarie Capital specialises in infrastructure development with £18bn currently under construction or development globally. Macquarie Capital’s expertise in advancing and developing early stage infrastructure projects will be applied into the digital space through the investment and partnership with Voneus.
Oliver Bradley, Managing Director, who led the transaction for Macquarie Capital said: “The roll-out of superfast and ultrafast broadband has too often focused on the UK’s urban centres – leaving untapped investment requirements in the UK’s rural communities. We believe that using Macquarie Capital’s unique principal investment and development expertise there is a significant opportunity to work with Voneus to accelerate the deployment of UK rural broadband, this will help unlock significant economic and social benefits for the UK.”