Nexfibre Partners with Virgin Media O2 to Acquire Upp, Boosting Fibre Footprint

In a strategic move aimed at expanding its presence in the East of England and accelerating the rollout of high-quality fibre connectivity, UK fibre builder nexfibre, in partnership with Virgin Media O2, has announced the acquisition of regional fibre operator Upp. The all-cash deal will significantly enhance nexfibre’s fibre network by adding approximately 175,000 premises to its coverage area and ensure continued investment and network expansion in the region.
nexfibre acquires altnet UppUnder the agreement, Virgin Media O2 will initially acquire Upp and undertake the integration process. However, nexfibre will ultimately fund the acquisition through a back-to-back agreement to purchase Upp’s network assets.

This acquisition is expected to provide nexfibre with a robust regional fibre network, characterized by minimal overlap with Virgin Media O2’s existing footprint. It will also facilitate the expansion of gigabit connectivity to more households through Virgin Media O2’s access to the nexfibre network.

Over the next 12 months, Virgin Media O2 will complete Upp’s ongoing network build, align Upp’s fibre network and systems with its own, and offer Upp customers a wide range of Virgin Media O2 services. Following this, nexfibre will acquire the network assets, totaling approximately 175,000 premises, in a second-stage transaction, which is anticipated to conclude within the next year.

As a result of this transaction, there will be a minimal net cash outflow for Virgin Media O2. All of Virgin Media O2’s broadband services will be accessible through the nexfibre network.

Nexfibre, backed by Liberty Global, Telefonica, and InfraVia Capital Partners, has a well-capitalized long-term plan in place. The company, with Virgin Media O2 as a build supplier, intends to continue expanding its network in the East of England, with an expected investment exceeding £350 million, aiming to reach over 500,000 premises by 2026.

Existing Upp customers, numbering around 4,000, will have access to a broad range of Virgin Media O2 services in the coming months. There will be no immediate service changes for Upp customers, and they can expect clear communications with further details directly from the company.

Upp, previously known as FibreMe, was founded in 2021 by a group of successful British entrepreneurs with extensive telecoms experience. The company has since invested in and provided fast, reliable full-fibre connectivity to homes and businesses in the East of England and East Midlands, covering areas such as Boston, Lincoln, Norwich, and King’s Lynn.

Andrea Salvato, Chairman of nexfibre, expressed enthusiasm about the acquisition, emphasizing nexfibre’s mission to bridge the digital divide in suburban and semi-rural areas. He stated, “Upp is a high-quality regional fibre network in the East of England and will accelerate our rollout in an area where we expect to invest more than £350 million by 2026.”

Lutz Schuler, CEO of Virgin Media O2, highlighted the strategic importance of this partnership, stating, “Virgin Media O2 and nexfibre have a clear strategy in place to be the biggest fibre challenger in the country, offering greater choice and competition to the BT status quo.”

Drew Ritchie, CEO of Upp, expressed his delight in being acquired by nexfibre and Virgin Media O2, emphasizing the recognition of the network’s quality and scale that Upp has built over the past two years. He conveyed gratitude to Upp’s previous shareholders and looked forward to working with the nexfibre and Virgin Media O2 teams to seize future opportunities.

The acquisition of Upp marks a significant milestone in the efforts to expand high-speed fibre connectivity in the East of England and represents a strong partnership between nexfibre and Virgin Media O2 in their mission to provide advanced broadband services to a wider audience.