Virgin Media O2 will be the Anchor Wholesale Client of the Joint Venture in Addition to Providing a Range of Technical Services.

• The Joint Venture will be 50% owned by Liberty Global and Telefónica, and 50% owned by InfraVia Capital Partners

• The Joint Venture will construct and operate a wholesale fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) broadband network of up to 7 million premises that will not overlap with VMO2’s existing network

• This network, alongside Virgin Media O2’s recently announced fibre upgrade project, will create a FTTH footprint of up to 23 million premises

• Unique deal combines the three partners’ infrastructure and financing expertise and UK operating experience, whilst leveraging VMO2’s industrial scale and network construction know-how

• The Joint Venture will have exclusive access to VMO2’s construction expertise and substantially all new build activity at VMO2 will be migrated going forward

• Transaction expected to close by the end of 2022

• Will accelerate FTTH deployment in the UK, with approximately £4.5 billion investment supported by £3.3 billion of fully underwritten financing commitments and up to £1.4 billion in equity commitments

Liberty Global and Telefónica, together with InfraVia Capital Partners, a leading independent financial investment firm specialising in infrastructure and technology investments, have reached an agreement to set up a new Joint Venture (JV) that will roll out fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) to greenfield premises across
the country.

The partnership will initially roll out fibre to 5 million homes not currently served by Virgin Media O2’s network by 2026, with the opportunity to expand to an additional c.2 million homes. This investment of approximately £4.5 billion will provide a major boost to the nation’s digital economy and make a significant contribution to the Government’s gigabit broadband ambitions.
Liberty Global and Telefónica will jointly hold a 50% stake in the JV through a holding company, with InfraVia owning the remaining 50%. Telefónica Group’s participation will be held through Telefónica Infra (its infrastructure unit).

The fibre network will be offering FTTH wholesale access to telecommunications service providers, with Virgin Media O2 (“VMO2”) acting as the anchor client, entering into an agreement with the JV upon closing of the transaction. Coupled with its own fibre investments to upgrade its existing 16 million premises network, this will expand Virgin Media O2’s gigabit footprint to around 80% of the UK upon

In addition, the JV will seek to attract additional third-party wholesale clients. The company will target homes across the UK, both adjacent to the existing Virgin Media O2 footprint and new areas. The business plan for the initial rollout of 5 million homes envisages an investment of approximately £4.5 billion, which includes investments related to the roll-out, envisaged connection capex and other related set-up costs. The three partners will fund their pro rata share of equity funding for the build, up to £1.4 billion in aggregate, phased over 4-5 years. In addition, the JV has obtained £3.3billion of fully underwritten debt financing from a consortium of financing banks, including a £3.1bn capex facility. As part of the transaction, InfraVia will make certain payments to Liberty Global and Telefónica, a portion of which will be linked to the progression of the network build-out.

Mike Fries, CEO and Vice Chairman, Liberty Global, comments: “This landmark agreement with Liberty Global, Telefonica and InfraVia will expand our FTTH footprint to millions of new UK homes, creating the undisputed second national fibre network in the UK. VMO2 has already committed to upgrading its entire existing 16 million footprint to FTTH. This JV will take our aggregate FTTH footprint to up to 23 million homes, reaching around 80% of the UK. VMO2 will bring significant build expertise, and will benefit from a meaningful off-net growth opportunity and as the anchor client will support attractive returns for the JV – a winning combination. Finally, we are very excited to be working with InfraVia who we already partner with in Germany, and welcome the expertise they bring to the JV.”

Read the full release here.