CityFibre has raised £1.425 billion in capital in the past six months and that’s probably just as well, given how much the firm is spending on fibre rollout.

Mary Lennighan

March 21, 2022

3 Min Read
CityFibre has raised nearly £1.5 billion in six months

CityFibre has raised £1.425 billion in capital in the past six months and that’s probably just as well, given how much the firm is spending on fibre rollout.

The UK fibre builder announced its latest fund-raiser this week, revealing that existing shareholder Mubadala Investment Company, a UAE state-owned sovereign wealth fund, has committed to handing over a further £300 million in return for an unspecified equity stake.

“This equity investment will support CityFibre’s accelerated growth plans and enable participation in Building Digital UK’s (BDUK) ‘Project Gigabit’ rural programme,” the companies said.

Mubadala bought into CityFibre almost exactly six months ago, ploughing £500 million into the business as part of a capital raising that also included investor Interogo Holding and came in at £825 million in total. The network operator also counts Goldman Sachs and Antin Infrastructure Partners among its shareholders, the pair having participated in its 2018 takeover, but although it lists its shareholders on its website, CityFibre does not specify who owns what.

All of which makes it pretty difficult to value the company. However, when the Wall Street Journal rumoured the news of the Mubadala investment last August, it valued the company at just north of £2 billion, or getting on for four times what Goldman et al paid three years earlier. Chances are that CityFibre’s value is not falling.

Rolling out infrastructure is an expensive business, but investors love it.

CityFibre is in the midst of a £4 billion full fibre rollout project that will see it deploy fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) to up to 8 million homes by 2025. Hitting an ‘up to’ target is really not that difficult, but we’ll have to wait and see how close it gets to the 8 million. It’s now at 1.5 million homes passed, 1.3 million of which are actually ready for service; that’s 500,000 more than it claimed in November last year, when it hit the 1 million mark, which looks like a pretty solid growth rate.

Customers wanting to connect to the CityFibre network, which is available in 60 major metro areas, need to sign up with one of its 30 retail ISP partners, including Vodafone, TalkTalk and Zen, all of which have inked long-term deals.

CityFibre says it is already the largest provider of full fibre in 26 UK cities, but it’s not wholly clear how it has arrived at that claim. And it still doesn’t share customer numbers. Nonetheless, with announcements about network milestones in key cities coming thick and fast in recent months, CityFibre is clearly making progress, and quickly at that.

“Mubadala’s confidence in our business is testament to our growing momentum and progress,” said CityFibre CEO Greg Mesch. “The need and appetite for carrier-neutral wholesale network competition at scale is clear, and CityFibre continues to demonstrate the benefits as a driver of wider investment, improved services and better value.”

That sounds like a win-win for both operator and consumer. And for investors, of course, who are going to keep ploughing money into this sector.

About the Author(s)

Mary Lennighan

Mary has been following developments in the telecoms industry for more than 20 years. She is currently a freelance journalist, having stepped down as editor of Total Telecom in late 2017; her career history also includes three years at CIT Publications (now part of Telegeography) and a stint at Reuters. Mary's key area of focus is on the business of telecoms, looking at operator strategy and financial performance, as well as regulatory developments, spectrum allocation and the like. She holds a Bachelor's degree in modern languages and an MA in Italian language and literature.

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