International law firm CMS has advised CityFibre, the UK's leading alternative provider of wholesale fibre network infrastructure, on its £200 million acquisition of FibreNation from TalkTalk Group. The acquisition, which is subject to TalkTalk shareholder approval, increases CityFibre’s rollout target from 5 million to up to 8 million premises and firmly establishes it as the UK’s third national digital infrastructure platform.
The combined rollout will create an investment programme of up to £4bn on completion and add up to 7,000 new construction jobs. CityFibre has also secured TalkTalk as a major wholesale customer across both consumer and business markets.
In parallel, CMS has advised CityFibre on a new commercial deal with Vodafone, which sees it modify the terms of its existing arrangements. The long-term partnership between CityFibre and Vodafone, originally signed in November 2017, promises to deliver ultra-fast Gigabit-capable full fibre broadband to up to 5 million homes and businesses across the UK by 2025. The new agreement will enable CityFibre to open up its networks to other consumer ISPs earlier than planned.
The CMS team advising on the FibreNation acquisition was led by corporate partner Katie Nagy de Nagybaczon, with support from client relationship partner Paul Blackmore, Philip Walton (Senior Associate), Brodie Thomson (Associate) on corporate aspects; Mark Joscelyne (Partner) and Kristin Shelley (Associate) on tax aspects; Anne Chitan (Partner) on banking aspects; and Chris Watson (Partner), Caroline Hobson (Partner), Jeremy Mash (Partner) and Russell Hoare (Senior Associate) on competition and regulatory aspects. Meanwhile, technology partner Laurence Kalman led the CMS team advising CityFibre on its agreement with Vodafone. Laurence was supported by Carl Fennessy (Senior Associate), Ed Roper (Associate) and Catherine Keeling (Trainee Solicitor).
Commenting on the deal, Greg Mesch, Chief Executive Officer of CityFibre, said:
“Digital connectivity has the power to transform our country into a nation of smart, connected towns and cities, boosting and levelling up our economy.
“Today’s announcement establishes CityFibre as the UK’s third national digital infrastructure platform allowing millions more consumers and businesses to benefit from access to faster, more reliable services.”
Katie Nagy de Nagybaczon adds:
“We are delighted to have advised our longstanding client on another transformative transaction which drives the expansion of its Gigabit City Investment Programme to more than 100 UK towns and cities.
“The acquisition and parallel agreement with Vodafone demonstrate the industry’s confidence in and enthusiasm for the delivery of full fibre broadband across the UK.”