Foresight completes investment into Lightning Fibre

Foresight Group (Foresight), an infrastructure and private equity investment manager, has completed a long-term financing agreement with Lightning Fibre, a community-minded Full Fibre network provider based in East Sussex.

Foresight’s investment will accelerate the development of Lightning Fibre’s Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) network in East Sussex, starting with the coastal towns of Eastbourne and Hastings. Lightning Fibre will build, install and operate new full fibre infrastructure across the region, delivering hyperfast broadband of up to 1Gbps to over 100,000 homes and businesses currently served by ageing copper infrastructure. Its fast expanding network is already established in Eastbourne and will help meet the rapidly increasing data consumption demands of consumers and businesses.

Helen Downie, Senior Investment Manager, Foresight, says: “We are impressed by the ambition of the management team and the progress Lightning Fibre has already made in bringing hyperfast broadband connectivity to businesses and homes in East Sussex.  We are pleased to be able to play an active part in the development of this important digital infrastructure project that will support the competitiveness of UK plc and a robust recovery from the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic. At Foresight, we are committed to investing for a smarter future, creating a sustainable legacy for future generations.”

Ben Ferriman, CEO of Lightning Fibre, adds: “The backing received from Foresight is a great endorsement of the management team and the company. With funding now secured, we can accelerate our build programme in Eastbourne and Hastings providing multi-gigabit Full Fibre broadband to everyone we pass. Lightning Fibre builds high quality networks and delivers to our customers a high-quality service at an affordable and competitive price. We strongly believe in our regional strategy and that starts with levelling up Eastbourne and Hastings.”

Foresight is a leading ESG and sustainable investment manager and studies have shown full fibre optic networks support lower greenhouse gas emissions and promote wider access to employment and education. This agreement with Lightning Fibre will create local jobs and enhance essential local infrastructure as well as accelerating the development of a fast fibre network to support the UK’s digital ambitions.

The UK Government has committed to bringing gigabit-capable broadband to every home in the UK by the end of 2025. Currently just 14 per cent of the UK has access to full fibre broadband and it is estimated that an investment of GBP30 billion over the next five years is required. With changing behaviours and work patterns forced on educational establishments, organisations and businesses by the pandemic restrictions, the UK has seen a huge surge in demand for fast and stable digital communications.

Foresight’s advisers included Acuity Advisors, CMS and Analysys Mason while Lightning Fibre was advised by EMC Corporate Finance and DMH Stallard.