Arrowpoint Advisory has advised leading full fibre operator Wessex Internet on securing a major equity investment from abrdn. The investment will help to accelerate the deployment of Wessex Internet’s full fibre-to-the-home network across rural parts of the South West of England. In establishing the agreement, abrdn will work together with Wessex Internet’s founders to support their vision for the future growth of the business.
Wessex Internet is a full fibre operator in the South West of England, having built an impressive fibre footprint across Dorset, Hampshire, Wiltshire and Somerset. The business has a network footprint covering tens of thousands of homes across these counties and has secured significant contracts underpinning a business plan that targets an additional 150,000 premises by 2027, through a combination of subsidised and unsubsidised capital investment.
Notably, at the end of August 2022, the UK Government announced that Wessex had been awarded the first subsidy contract under their new £5bn Project Gigabit broadband scheme, which will reach 7,100 premises in rural parts of North Dorset.
This is the first investment funded by abrdn’s third Core Infrastructure Fund, ASCI III, which is raising a target €1 billion to invest in the pan-European infrastructure mid-market and follows on from the final investment in abrdn’s second Core Infrastructure Fund, SLCI II, in the German train rolling stock sector.
Dominic Helmsley, Head of abrdn Core Infrastructure, said: “We are committed to delivering reliable and essential infrastructure to local communities. This investment is our second UK rural fibre investment and underpins our core capabilities and ambitions in real assets.”
Alex Anderson, Investment Director at abrdn’s Core Infrastructure Fund, said: “We look forward to working alongside Wessex Internet’s founders and management team, leveraging our capabilities and experience in the infrastructure sector to deliver this next phase of growth to the benefit of a number of historically underserved rural parts of the country.
This kind of investment is crucial to allowing the supply of ultrafast, reliable and cost-effective broadband in rural areas to help drive productivity, connect communities and reduce the digital divide across the UK.”
Hector Gibson Fleming, Chief Executive Officer at Wessex Internet, added: “I would like to thank the team at Arrowpoint Advisory for their support in helping us to find the right partner for the next stage in our growth journey. Wessex Internet is a local Dorset company; our fantastic team have already built a track record of delivering outstanding products and exceptional service through our collaborative approach to full fibre rollout into underserved rural communities.
This investment from abrdn is a demonstration of the success of our differentiated strategy. As we accelerate our rollout, we will fulfil our vision of connecting the rest of the communities within our region, creating a truly local broadband operator with a trusted brand that fully understands its customer base. We are hugely excited about working with the abrdn Core Infrastructure investment team to build on our reputation as we enter this next phase of growth.”
Ian Brown, Managing Director at Arrowpoint Advisory, concluded: “Wessex Internet is a unique Altnet with a strong culture and management team. It’s remarkable what the founders have built in the last decade, and we are delighted to have supported them on this private capital fund raise, enabling Wessex Internet to accelerate its successful rollout. Whilst we look forward to seeing the results of this partnership in the South West of England, the transaction further reinforces Rothschild & Co’s strong track record in the full-fibre space.”