Macquarie Capital makes first UK digital investment

The deal is the first by Macquarie Capital since Oliver Bradley returned to the group as managing director for digital investments.

Macquarie Capital has injected an initial £10 million ($12.1 million; €10.9 million) into UK rural broadband provider Voneus in what it described as its first “significant investment” in digital infrastructure in the UK.

The investment, which could reach up to £30 million, will support the company’s roll-out of full fibre broadband to rural homes in the UK and also refinance existing debt. Voneus currently manages about 4,000 connections.

Macquarie Capital said only 5 percent of the UK has a full fibre broadband connection, and the UK was last year ranked among the lowest in Europe for this by IDATE for FTTH Council Europe.

The deal is the first in the sector agreed to by Macquarie Group’s corporate advisory and principal investment unit since it appointed Oliver Bradley as managing director for digital infrastructure in January this year. The appointment marked a return to Macquarie for Bradley, who worked in London and New York for Macquarie Capital between 2005 and 2015 before departing to advise the UK government on private infrastructure finance at the Infrastructure Projects Authority. He was also a corporate finance director at UK broadband group CityFibre, departing shortly after its takeover by Antin Infrastructure Partners and Goldman Sachs Infrastructure Partners.

“The roll-out of superfast and ultrafast broadband has too often focused on the UK’s urban centres – leaving untapped investment requirements in the UK’s rural communities,” Bradley said in a statement. “We believe that using Macquarie Capital’s unique principal investment and development expertise there is a significant opportunity to work with Voneus to accelerate the deployment of UK rural broadband, this will help unlock significant economic and social benefits for the UK.”

Macquarie’s sixth European infrastructure fund, MEIF6, completed its revised £627 million public-to-private takeover of UK broadband group KCOM last week, fending off competition from the Universities Superannuation Scheme.