Railpen arrives at Community Fibre with £10m spend

Railway pension fund provided the bulk of an £11.3m raise for the broadband company.

The UK-based pension scheme Railpen has plugged £10 million ($12.9 million; €11.2 million) into a London-focused fibre broadband provider.

The investment manager for the Railways Pension Scheme committed the funds to Community Fibre, a company that has so far connected 10,000 homes and businesses in London to its fibre broadband network since forming four years ago.

Community Fibre said the investment will help it surpass 40,000 properties by the end of next year, with Railpen’s contribution supplemented by a further £1.3 million from existing shareholders.

Railpen’s investment in Community Fibre comes just two months after it joined Infracapital and Woodford Investment Management in committing £35 million to the UK-based rural broadband provider Gigaclear. While it was a founding member of the Pensions Infrastructure Platform in 2012, the fund has in recent years focused on bolstering its internal investment capabilities and last month recruited Paul Nathan as chief operating officer – he had previously performed the same role at from Old Mutual Global Investors.

The UK’s broadband sector is braced for further investment after Infracapital, Amber Infrastructure and M&G Investments launched three funds last week as part of the government’s Digital Infrastructure Investment Fund.

A significant portion of these vehicles is expected to be aimed at London, with a recent local government report branding current digital infrastructure as “sub-standard”, with the capital suffering in parts from “digital deserts”. A 2014 survey found London ranking 26th out of 33 European capitals in terms of broadband connections.