Thrings team leads on £50m funding deal to boost Cornwall’s broadband network

February 17, 2021

A specialist banking and finance team led by Swindon-headquartered law firm Bristol office has secured a £50m investment to roll out gigabit-capable broadband services across Cornwall.

The funding will support Cornish internet service provider Wildanet’s growth plans by substantially expanding its network across the county. 

Redruth-based Wildanet was launched in 2017 by chief executive Ian Calvert to combat Cornwall’s connectivity problems and provide fast, reliable internet to customers in often hard-to-reach areas.

The investment from the Gresham House British Strategic Investment Infrastructure Fund LP (BSIF) will enable the firm to build on its existing fixed wireless network to provide superfast, fibre-to-the-premise (FTTP) broadband to thousands of homes and businesses.

It is also set to trigger a recruitment drive, with the network expansion creating up to 98 jobs.

Ian Calvert and Wildanet chief financial officer Charles McKay received legal, commercial and strategic advice from Thrings’ banking and finance team, who reviewed and negotiated complex investment and security documentation, carried out a disclosure exercise, and ensured the investment adhered to government regulations.

The Thrings team, which included lawyers from its Bath and Bristol offices as well as Swindon, was led by partner Mike Tomlin with support from fellow partners Elaine Meyrick and Simon Hore, solicitors Lizzie King, Joseph Watkins and Carys Webb, and trainee Matt Cornforth. Employment law advice was provided by senior associate Natalie Ward. 

Ian Calvert said: “I’m delighted for Cornwall and for Wildanet that we have been able to secure this investment from Gresham House plc’s BSIF.

“It will enable us to expand our network across more of the county, deploy fibre to the premise technology whilst expanding our fixed wireless network and ultimately create new jobs in Cornwall.

With households forecast to double the number of internet-connected devices in the next few years it’s clear that having a fast and reliable internet connection has become increasingly important.”

Mike Tomlin, pictured, added: “It was a pleasure to work with Ian, Charles and the team. This investment will allow Wildanet to fulfil its goals in terms of network expansion and access, and we look forward to seeing the results for the company, and for the region.” 

Independent fund managers Amberside Capital advised Wildanet, which since 2018 has been backed by the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Investment Fund (CIOSIF), on the corporate finance aspects of the deal.

International law firm Herbert Smith Freehills advised Gresham House while Reading firm Field Seymour Parkes acted for an existing shareholder/investor.

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