Canadian investor acquires Yorkshire-based tech company

Sean Royce

Ultrafast broadband provider Quickline Communications and investment firm Northleaf Capital Partners, say funds managed by Northleaf have completed the acquisition of a majority share in Quickline’s holding company – QCL Holdings.

The management team of Hessle-based Quickline, as well as Bigblu Broadband and Harwood Capital, have retained minority stakes in the company.

Quickline’s strategy includes a plan to invest more than £500m to provide ultrafast and gigabit-capable broadband connectivity in rural Northern England and beyond.

It expects to provide ultrafast broadband accessibility to more than 500,000 rural premises in the coming years by expanding its gigabit-capable, next-generation hybrid network.

To reduce the digital divide, the business will use a hybrid approach of utilising 5G and a fibre to the premise (FTTP) network for a cost effective, technical solution.

This has enabled it to secure four multi-million pound Building Digital UK contracts to supply next-generation internet access in places that other operators have largely ignored.

The company is currently upgrading digital infrastructures across North Lincolnshire, Lincolnshire, West and North Yorkshire.

Sean Royce, Quickline’s newly appointed CEO, said: “This is a major turning point in Quickline’s history and sets us even further apart from other ultrafast broadband providers.

“Receiving this kind of investment from Northleaf provides us with the ability to supply life-changing gigabit-capable broadband to hundreds of thousands of rural customers that previously were unable to access the internet at speed.

“We look forward to working alongside Northleaf to create this unique hybrid next-generation network, provide hundreds of jobs and build a business that provides new breakthroughs in internet connectivity for broadband users in remote pockets of the UK.”

Roderick Gadsby, head of Toronto-headquartered Northleaf’s infrastructure activities in the UK and Europe, said: “We are delighted the acquisition has been successfully completed.

Roderick Gadsby

“Quickline is an excellent fit with our communications infrastructure investment strategy and offers our investors exposure to an attractive and growing sector.

“The evolution of the industry is being led by the likes of Quickline, which has experienced rapid growth in recent years.

“Quickline plans to utilise both full fibre and 5G fixed wireless technologies to accelerate the deployment of gigabit-capable broadband in remote UK regions which will provide critical infrastructure to rural communities in its target markets.”

Digital Infrastructure Minister Matt Warman said: “I welcome this substantial investment in Quickline. It will help us build back better by connecting more than half a million rural homes and businesses to top-of-the-range broadband speeds by 2025.

“Boosting connections in rural communities is crucial to our plans to level up Britain, and we’re working alongside commercial providers to plug in hard-to-reach homes and businesses through our £5bn Project Gigabit scheme.”

Councillor Don Mackenzie, executive member for access at North Yorkshire County Council, added: “We are committed to continuing to bring access to superfast broadband for our residents and businesses across North Yorkshire with our SFNY project.

“The latest phase of the programme being delivered by Quickline is vital as we extend connectivity to more premises in the most rural areas of the county.”