Two infrastructure firms are said to be close to buying one of the UK’s alternative broadband providers.
The Financial Times reports Paris-headquartered Vauban Infrastructure Partners and Axione are in discussions to acquire Trooli.
Virgin Media O2, owned jointly by Spain’s Telefónica and Liberty Global, had also been linked with the company, but is now said to have dropped out due to a combination of the price and the cost of repairs to the network.
Instead, VMO2 has turned its attentions towards CityFibre, one of the larger networks in the market, which has a first look consumer deal with Vodafone.
An expected increase in interest for the hundreds of smaller providers has gained momentum as the new entrants struggle to get new financing in the current economic climate. While many have laid fibre around the UK, providing a potential headache to BT Openreach and VMO2, they have sometimes struggled to persuade customers to move across.
For its part, Openreach has been expanding its buildout to counter both the threat from the overbuilders, and to reach government mandated targets. Plans by Openreach to reduce its wholesale charges and attract more customers have been made with displeasure from the new entrants and their private equity backers.
Trooli has focussed on delivering fibre to largely rural postcodes in Southern England including Berkshire, Dorset and Kent. It’s looking to reach 2.1 million homes by 2026.