Northleaf to acquire majority stake in Quickline to address UK’s digital divide with further investment planned in infrastructure and people and a target to pass 500,000 premises

London, 23rd April, 2021 - Quickline Communications Limited (“Quickline”), a leading provider of ultrafast broadband to rural and hard to reach areas, today announced that funds managed by Northleaf Capital Partners (“Northleaf”) have agreed to acquire a majority stake in QCL Holdings Limited, Quickline’s holding company, subject to certain conditions. The company’s management team as well as Bigblu Broadband (AIM: BBB.L) and Harwood Capital will retain minority stakes in the company.

Quickline believes that partnering with Northleaf as a majority shareholder will allow it to achieve its growth strategy across all aspects of its comprehensive business plan, including its infrastructure, people and systems. Quickline is targeting to pass 500,000 premises with its 5G and increasingly Fibre to the Premise (“FTTP”) network in the coming years.

Quickline uses a hybrid of technologies including 5G fixed wireless and FTTP, often working with government and local authorities to try and solve the connectivity problems that exist in rural communities. Having secured four major BDUK grants across Yorkshire and Lincolnshire in late 2020, the company is seeking to scale up the business with ambitious growth plans to provide gigabit-capable broadband services across rural areas in the north of England and beyond.

A digital divide remains in the UK with many rural areas still in desperate need of increased broadband speeds and reliability. Today’s news follows the Government’s recent announcement of Project Gigabit, a £5bn commitment targeting 100% gigabit-capable coverage with a minimum of 85% achieved by 2025.

Quickline recently announced the appointment of Sean Royce as its new Chief Executive Officer to work alongside Quickline’s Founder and Chief Technology Officer, Steve Jagger. They are supported by Quickline’s Executive Chairman, Paul Howard. Sean will join Quickline in May following a hugely successful career at KCOM Group where he was responsible for KCOM’s full fibre roll-out, the first and most extensive full fibre broadband network in the UK.

Hayley Silvester, New Business Director of Hull and East Yorkshire-based Quickline, now the largest hybrid network provider in the country with a rapidly expanding coverage area, said:

Northleaf is a Toronto-headquartered global private markets investment firm with over £10bn of commitments under management and a successful long-term track record as a global infrastructure investor. Northleaf’s experience and financial support will allow Quickline to become the leading rural broadband infrastructure provider in the UK, delivering innovative, flexible and hybrid solutions to millions of premises in underserved areas.

The transaction remains subject to approval from Bigblu Broadband’s shareholders and also certain other conditions. It is expected to close in June.

Steve Jagger, CTO and founder, Quickline Communications, said: “We’re delighted with the prospect of working with Northleaf and accelerating the investment in gigabit capable broadband infrastructure across the North of England and beyond. With Northleaf’s support, we can make a real difference to our rural communities, helping narrow the digital divide whist also creating hundreds of jobs across our region.”

Roderick Gadsby, Head of Northleaf’s infrastructure activities in the UK and Europe, said: “We are pleased to have agreed to acquire Quickline as the company is an excellent fit with our communications infrastructure strategy and our broader portfolio of mid-market infrastructure assets in select OECD countries. We look forward to working closely with the management team as they execute the business plan and accelerate the delivery of gigabit capable fixed wireless and FTTP services to underserved rural regions of the UK.”

Quickline Communications Ltd
https://www.quickline.co.uk/
Steve Jagger, Founding Director / CTO
Tel: +44 (0)1482 247365
Paul Howard, Executive Chairman

About Quickline Communications Ltd
Founded in 2008, Quickline Communications delivers Ultra-fast internet connectivity to Business, Public Sector and Residential customers via its own independent Fibre and Fixed Wireless Access network. Following acquisition by Big Blu Broadband (BBB) in August 2017 and having secured four major BDUK grants across Lincolnshire and Yorkshire in late 2020, Quickline is now deploying a hybrid network that includes both FTTP and 5G fixed wireless technologies to better serve rural communities.

About Northleaf Capital Partners
Northleaf Capital Partners is a global private markets investment firm with US$16 billion in private equity, private credit and infrastructure commitments under management on behalf of public, corporate and multi-employer pension plans, endowments, foundations, financial institutions and family offices. Northleaf’s 150-person team, located in Toronto, Montreal, London, New York, Chicago, Menlo Park and Melbourne, is focused exclusively on sourcing, evaluating and managing private markets investments globally. Northleaf’s portfolio includes more than 400 active investments in 40 countries, with a focus on mid-market companies and assets. For more information on Northleaf, please visit www.northleafcapital.com.