£100m cash injection for network provider founded by TalkTalk founder Neil McArthur

Neil McArthur

New alternative network provider Freedom Fibre is accelerating its North West fibre roll-out thanks to a £100m cash injection.

The Greater Manchester-based company established by Neil McArthur, the founder of telecoms giant TalkTalk, has secured £84m scale-up investment from infrastructure investor Equitix alongside Santander debt facility.

This is the first step in its rollout to over 2 million premises in the North West.

Irlam-headquartered Freedom Fibre, founded just over a year ago, is a next generation wholesale Full Fibre to the premises (FTTP) network provider with a “B2B2C” business model.

The company was founded by telecoms network entrepreneur Neil McArthur, who pioneered broadband and fibre networks in the UK including rolling out TalkTalk’s nationwide footprint.

Equitix, a leading global investor, developer, and long-term fund manager of core infrastructure assets, has made an initial £84m funding commitment into Freedom Fibre.

The cash will accelerate the roll-out of FTTP by Freedom Fibre, which is predominantly through the installation of fibre across BT’s existing infrastructure.

Freedom Fibre is already offering ultra-fast broadband to almost 20,000 homes across parts of Cheshire and Greater Manchester “with minimal disruption to residents” through its extensive use of BT ducts and poles.

The company is on track to reach 70,000 premises by the end of this year and expects to boost customer penetration through its wholesale agreement with TalkTalk to use its fibre optic connections.

Freedom Fibre will be seeking to add other broadband service providers over time as it scales.

Neil McArthur, CEO, said: “Freedom Fibre firmly believes Full Fibre should be a right, accessible to all, and not a privilege.

“This new funding is enabling us to support our long-term ambition to take fibre off the beaten track to semi-urban areas, providing fast, reliable connectivity with the best possible customer experience.

“We are excited to be driving forward our strategy to create an affordable, optical fibre network which will last for generations.”

Hugh Crossley, Chief Executive Officer for Equitix, said “We are looking forward to investing in and developing Freedom Fibre’s network roll-out.

“We believe Freedom Fibre is a strong business, operating in an essential infrastructure sector that has a critical role in providing connectivity for both the people and the economy of the North West.

“This sizeable investment further enhances Equitix’s network infrastructure that distribute essential utilities to over 6.3 million customers across the UK and Europe. Freedom Fibre’s network roll-out will continue our strategic aims to provide local communities with affordable, high quality essential infrastructure.”

Freedom Fibre was advised by Oakley Advisory and by Addleshaw Goddard, along with PWC Debt advisory. Equitix was advised by Cameron Barney and by Shoosmiths.

The Manchester-based Addleshaw Goddard team was led by partner Roger Hart and included Rabia Burton, Josh Nock, Nick Parkin, Martin O’Shea, Alex Redford and Dulcie Jones.