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R&M’s £155m backing for ultrafast broadband network

Investment specialist River and Mercantile (R&M) is to invest up to £155 million to fund the rollout of Spring Fibre’s ultrafast full fibre broadband network across England, in a deal supported by PKF Francis Clark.

Well known as a provider of listed equity investment funds, R&M established its Infrastructure business in 2021 to invest in long-life income generating assets with outstanding ESG credentials. Its fund targets investments in assets related to energy transition or digital transition.

Energy and infrastructure specialists at PKF Francis Clark carried out financial and tax due diligence for R&M on its investment in Spring Fibre.

Founded in 2019, Spring Fibre aims to deliver multi-gigabit capable full fibre-optic infrastructure across England, giving residential and commercial customers next generation access to the internet. Led by CEO Ros Singleton, the company will deploy its network on a wholesale basis to a range of internet service providers.

Through its partnership with R&M, Spring Fibre plans to create a network rising to more than 1 million premises passed over time. Spring Fibre targets areas with poor internet provision and aims to deliver a major boost to many under-served communities and businesses.

It’s always rewarding to help our clients with the many complex tax issues that can arise in transactions such as this.

Ian Berry, head of infrastructure at River and Mercantile, said: “As in many countries, we continue to see growing demand for better and faster access to data across the UK. However, the provision of infrastructure is often skewed to larger cities, meaning that many areas of the country remain under-served to the detriment of the people that live, work or operate businesses there.

“In helping to solve this problem, Spring Fibre’s network will make a significant positive societal impact. From an investment perspective, we consider data infrastructure is a critical asset and investments such as this help us provide reliable, long term income to our clients.”

Rob Gear, corporate finance director at PKF Francis Clark, said: “This significant investment by R&M’s infrastructure fund will accelerate the rollout of much-needed ultrafast broadband to areas of the country that are currently lacking the digital infrastructure they need. We know how vital fast, reliable internet access is to the modern economy, so we were delighted to work closely with R&M and Spring Fibre to help them complete this deal and wish them every success with their new partnership.”

Corporate tax partner Adam Kefford added: “It’s always rewarding to help our clients with the many complex tax issues that can arise in transactions such as this, especially knowing that the deal we have played a role in will pave the way for real benefits to communities through the delivery of key infrastructure.”

Find out more about PKF Francis Clark’s energy and infrastructure advisory team.

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