Iliad partnership to accelerate French fibre delivery

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The Iliad Group is in talks with private equity firm, InfraVia to set up a partnership aimed at accelerating FTTH roll-outs in sparsely populated areas of France.

 It will also help to secure the group’s investments in fibre networks, falling in line with its commitment to the French national broadband plan, France Plan Très Haut Débit. The aim of the national broadband plan is to connect all households and businesses to ‘superfast’ broadband by 2022.

Iliad – the parent company of alternative operator, Free – has set up a separate entity to acquire and operate the group’s co-financed FTTH tranches in the areas concerned. Free will transfer its existing co-financing agreements to this entity, along with around a million existing co-financed sockets. The group will sell 51 per cent of the entity to InfraVia based on an enterprise value of around €600 million.

This company will then co-finance the creation of new sockets and take up new co-financing tranches. It will also enter into a long-term service agreement with Free, under which it will provide all access and information services for the co-financed sockets and will also be able to offer the same services to third-party operators.

With 11.5 million connectible sockets and a sales presence in all of France's regions, the group says that is now has the largest FTTH network of all the country's alternative operators. It offers 10G Fibre technology, providing an average upload speed of 600Mb/s. 

Thomas Reynaud, Iliad’s chief executive officer said: ‘The French market is characterised by high demand for fibre across the whole country. Our partnership with InfraVia is an excellent way of accelerating our rollouts so that Free can offer the best speeds to 26 million households as soon as possible.’

Added Vincent Levita, president and founder of InfraVia: ‘Access to digital infrastructure remains a key objective for our regions and we are very pleased to partner up with Free to accelerate the roll-out of the fibre across France. This project is also very consistent with our strategy to team up with industrial players to accelerate the development of tomorrow’s infrastructure.’

The deal will be subject to the customary conditions and expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2019.

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