London, 25 March 2021
Macquarie Capital’s Infrastructure Principal and Projects business has now taken a majority shareholding in the UK rural broadband business – Voneus. This follows an initial investment in August 2019 and will support Voneus’ growth and the commencement of fibre roll-out activity across rural areas of the UK.
Voneus is currently a leading provider of Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) technology, providing superfast broadband to rural homes and businesses. The initial funding provided by Macquarie Capital has helped strengthen Voneus’ management team and enabled them to prepare for the move to fibre.
The first full fibre installations have begun at a number of long standing Voneus communities including Buckland Dinham in Somerset and Dunton in South Bedfordshire. The business has a near term objective to connect more than 100,000 rural homes to fibre and is also well positioned to participate in Project Gigabit1, and help deliver on the UK Government’s ambition to ensure traditionally hard to reach rural communities can benefit from superfast broadband.
The past 12 months have shown the critical importance of home internet connectivity. Voneus will be targeting the 1.6 million UK homes that lack access to superfast (or faster) broadband access.
As a first step to connecting communities, Voneus installs superfast FWA technology which can be deployed quickly and provides an attractive alternative to the much slower copper networks that rural homes and businesses often must rely on. Voneus then upgrades its FWA rural communities to future proof full fibre infrastructure. This model makes it easier to provide high quality internet connection to communities quickly, while providing a clear pathway to delivering them a reliable, future proof fibre-to-the-home network. The business has also seen a significant uptick in demand for its services.
Macquarie Capital has also added the Israel Infrastructure Fund (IIF) to the investment consortium, to further accelerate Voneus’ growth. IIF has expertise gained from being a lead investor in Unlimited, a wholesale fibre platform, which has rolled out fibre to more than 600,000 homes in Israel and aims to connect 1.7 million homes by 2024. They will bring unique expertise to support Voneus’ future fibre deployment in the UK.
The UK Government’s Digital Infrastructure Minister, Matt Warman MP, said: "As we build back better from the pandemic we want to future proof the UK with next-generation broadband. Last week we launched our record £5 billion Project Gigabit to make sure hard-to-reach homes and businesses don't miss out on gigabit speeds.”
“But we can't deliver this national broadband upgrade alone. Macquarie's investment in Voneus is great news for the UK's flourishing telecoms industry and for the rural communities currently struggling with slow speeds."
Steve Leighton, chief executive officer of Voneus said: “Voneus has always seen itself as the champion of rural broadband. We specialise in connecting those communities that are effectively off the grid. As we connect our first full fibre customers to our network, we do two things. One, we bring gigabit capable connectivity to a rural community and, two, we validate our fixed wireless access to full fibre model - which makes smaller-scale fibre investment sustainable. Macquarie and IIF recognise this and share our vision. We are absolutely delighted to be working with them”.
Oliver Bradley, a managing director at Macquarie Capital said: “The start of roll-out of full fibre broadband to these rural communities demonstrates the success of the Voneus model in de-risking and speeding up fibre rollout to harder to reach communities. We look forward to continuing to provide our development capabilities to support the management team in connecting further rural committees and helping unlock significant economic and social benefits for the UK.”
Yaron Kestenbaum, co-founder and managing partner of IIF said: “We are delighted to be partnering with Macquarie Group. This investment is in line with IIF’s strategy to be a part of the digital infrastructure space, which is now widely regarded as an essential infrastructure asset – to be treated on par with utilities such as water, gas and electricity.”
Macquarie Capital specialises in infrastructure development with £18 billion currently under construction or development globally. Macquarie Capital’s Infrastructure Principal and Projects business specialises in the development and construction of projects across transportation, social and digital infrastructure. The team also offers flexible, partnership capital to infrastructure companies to help fund capital expenditure, business expansion and acquisitions.
Israel Infrastructure Fund
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Israel Infrastructure Fund (IIF) was a first mover in the Israeli infrastructure investment market – developing a well-established brand over the past 14 years. IIF invests in infrastructure assets in Israel as well as select global markets in energy, transport & smart mobility, water, waste management, environmental services, and digital infrastructure. For further information, visit www.iif.co.il.
Voneus is the champion of rural community broadband and a leading provider of superfast and ultrafast broadband for homes and businesses located in poorly connected or difficult to reach communities.
Founded in 2015 by a group of seasoned telecoms industry specialists, Voneus aims to become the UK’s number one provider of both superfast and ultrafast broadband services, bringing parity between rural areas and the UK’s towns and cities.