London, October 2020: Foresight Group LLP (“Foresight”), a leading infrastructure and private equity investment manager, has completed a long-term financing agreement with Lightning Fibre, a community-minded full fibre network provider based in East Sussex.
Foresight is a committed infrastructure investor actively financing green and core infrastructure projects, bringing clean energy and now superior digital connectivity to households and businesses across the UK.
Foresight’s investment will accelerate the development of Lightning Fibre’s Fibre-to-the-Premises (“FTTP”) network in East Sussex, starting with the coastal towns of Eastbourne and Hastings. Lightning Fibre will build, install and operate new full fibre infrastructure across the region, delivering hyperfast broadband of up to 1Gbps to over 100,000 homes and businesses currently served by ageing copper infrastructure. Its fast expanding network is already established in Eastbourne and will help meet the rapidly increasing data consumption demands of consumers and businesses.
Helen Downie, Senior Investment Manager, Foresight commented: “We are impressed by the ambition of the management team and the progress Lightning Fibre has already made in bringing hyperfast broadband connectivity to businesses and homes in East Sussex. We are pleased to be able to play an active part in the development of this important digital infrastructure project that will support the competitiveness of UK plc and a robust recovery from the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic. At Foresight, we are committed to investing for a smarter future, creating a sustainable legacy for future generations.”
Ben Ferriman, CEO of Lightning Fibre, added: “The backing received from Foresight is a great endorsement of the management team and the company. With funding now secured, we can accelerate our build programme in Eastbourne and Hastings providing multi-gigabit full fibre broadband to everyone we pass. Lightning Fibre builds high quality networks and delivers to our customers a high-quality service at an affordable and competitive price. We strongly believe in our regional strategy and that starts with levelling up Eastbourne and Hastings.”
Foresight is a leading ESG and sustainable investment manager and studies have shown full fibre optic networks support lower greenhouse gas emissions and promote wider access to employment and education. This agreement with Lightning Fibre will create local jobs and enhance essential local infrastructure as well as accelerating the development of a fast fibre network to support the UK’s digital ambitions.
The UK Government has committed to bringing gigabit-capable broadband to every home in the UK by the end of 2025. Currently just 14% of the UK has access to full fibre broadband and it is estimated that an investment of £30bn over the next five years is required. With changing behaviours and work patterns forced on educational establishments, organisations and businesses by the pandemic restrictions, the UK has seen a huge surge in demand for fast and stable digital communications.
Foresight’s advisers included Acuity Advisors, CMS and Analysys Mason while Lightning Fibre was advised by EMC Corporate Finance and DMH Stallard.
Helen Downie, Senior Investment Manager at Foresight:
“Having made the decision to extend our investment focus into Gigabit broadband, we appointed Acuity Advisors to support us with executing our first transaction in the sector. Throughout the process their networks and detailed knowledge of the FTTH industry were instrumental to getting the deal closed successfully. We would have no hesitation in recommending Marcus and Phil.”
Ben Ferriman, Founder and CEO, Lightning Fibre:
“Whilst Lightning Fibre was on the other side of Acuity Advisors in terms of this transaction, Marcus and Phil’s professionalism and personalities, allowed both sides to achieve a successful deal. Full fibre infrastructure is increasingly a need rather than a nice to have and is critical to the UK in these uncertain times. For Lightning Fibre this is a significant milestone, as we now have a substantial backer in Foresight and in turn the war chest to take on Eastbourne and Hastings before embarking into the rest of our regional strategy.”
Marcus Allchurch, Partner at Acuity Advisors commented:
“I am absolutely thrilled to have supported Foresight to secure their first investment in a UK full fibre rollout, and look forward to seeing that partnership thrive as Lightning Fibre rolls out its network across the south coast, starting in Eastbourne and Hastings. Foresight have an outstanding track record as investors, and were great to work with on this transaction.”