Virgin Media O2 dials up £100m bid for altnet rival Trooli
Virgin Media O2 and its shareholders are exploring a takeover bid for Trooli, one of the UK's army of 'altnet' fibre broadband companies.
Sky News has learnt that the telecoms giant, which is jointly owned by Liberty Global and Spain's Telefonica, is among a substantial number of parties examining offers for Trooli as part of a formal auction process.
Telecoms industry sources said any offer was likely to be worth in excess of £100m.
Trooli is exploring a sale amid growing pressure on the deluge of alternative network - or altnet - providers which have sprung up in the last decade as part of efforts to transform Britain's communications infrastructure.
The market is dominated by BT's Openreach division, but also includes large competitors such as CityFibre Holdings.
Trooli is focused on rural and semi-rural postcodes, and has been connecting households to fibre broadband in counties including Berkshire, Dorset and Kent.
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It has previously set a target of one million premises by the end of next year, although it is unclear whether that ambition remains realistic.
Many of the smaller altnets have been hit by soaring costs and supply chain and labour issues, impairing their path to profitability.
Trooli raised nearly £70m of senior debt in August 2021 to help it expand.
Its shareholders are understood to largely comprise its management team.
Virgin Media O2's interest in acquiring Trooli has been registered as part of the sale process being handled by bankers at Lazard.
It remains possible, however, that an acquisition of the business could be undertaken through the behemoth's shareholders' joint venture, Nexfibre, according to one insider.
Nexfibre is also partly owned by Infravia, an infrastructure investor.
A Virgin Media O2 spokesman declined to comment on Monday.