Last week saw us complete the next step in the ongoing development of Metronet (UK) as we announced the acquisition of leading internet infrastructure and hosting provider, M247.

Metronet (UK) continues to grow in excess of 30% per year by intelligently combining radio wireless with conventional fibre and Ethernet to deliver faster, and provide more flexible connectivity solutions than traditional network operators. By utilising our fully owned ‘last mile’ network, we control the cost and quality of the service that we deliver to provide a truly differentiated experience for our customers and partners. This differentiation underpins our growth today, but we want to play a more meaningful part in the lives of our customers and support the journey to the Cloud for businesses in the UK and across Europe.

To fulfil this ambition, we wanted to create a ‘Connectivity & Content’ provider, that combines the rapid delivery of resilient network connectivity with the ability to provide best in class server and application hosting. At the same time, given we achieve differentiation and control by owning our last mile network, we wanted to own the datacentres in which those servers and applications are hosted. This is just one reason why M247 is such a good fit.

M247 is much more than a high-growth hosting business. In addition to two datacentres in Manchester and one in Bucharest (with an extension about to be built with the help of a €1m EU grant), the business also has one of the most robust transit networks in the UK and Europe, carrying up to 1.2Tb of internet traffic at any one time. These assets combine to create a truly differentiated capability that has seen M247 provide services for customers including Vodafone, Warburtons and On the Beach among others.

Bringing two businesses together that are succeeding in their own right struck us as the best way to create the ‘Connectivity & Content’ provider we imagined. The fact that Metronet (UK) and M247 are extremely well known to each other, enjoy deep historic relationships between the leadership teams, share a very similar culture and are only four miles apart, led us to the conclusion that this was the right transaction for both businesses.

Having started conversations in mid-July, thanks to fantastic support from our Private Equity owners, Livingbridge and our new partner Ares Management, we spent £47.5m to bring our independently successful businesses together to make our plan of creating a ‘Connectivity & Content’ provider a reality. We’re indebted to David Buckle and the team for the excellent work they have done in developing M247 and wish David all the very best for his well-earned retirement. The great news for us is that the M247 team, along with original founders Jonathan Buckle and Chris Byrd along with Paul Pintiliescu leading the operation in Europe, remain very much part of the business and are committed to the journey with Metronet (UK).

It’s been a great week and there is much to do, but this is just the beginning!

– Lee Perkins