abrdn’s latest European mid-market core and core-plus infrastructure fund has invested in Wessex Internet, a fibre operator in the UK.

The manager said ASCI III, its third core infrastructure fund, has agreed to make the major equity investment to accelerate the deployment of Wessex Internet’s full fibre-to-the-home network across rural parts of the South West of England.

Wessex Internet, which has a fibre footprint covering tens of thousands of homes across Dorset, Hampshire, Wiltshire and Somerset, plans to add 150,000 premises by 2027, through a combination of subsidised and unsubsidised capital investment.

Last month, the UK government announced that Wessex Internet had been awarded the first subsidy contract under their new £5bn Project Gigabit broadband scheme, which will reach 7,100 premises in rural parts of North Dorset.

The investment from the ASCI III fund is the first investment funded by abrdn’s third core infrastructure fund. ASCI III is seeking to raise €1bn.

Dominic Helmsley, the head of Abrdn’s core infrastructure business, said: “We are committed to delivering reliable and essential infrastructure to local communities. This investment is our second UK rural fibre investment and underpins our core capabilities and ambitions in real assets.”

Alex Anderson, investment director, Abrdn’s core infrastructure business, said: “We look forward to working alongside Wessex Internet’s founders and management team, leveraging our capabilities and experience in the infrastructure sector to deliver this next phase of growth to the benefit of a number of historically underserved rural parts of the country.

“This kind of investment is crucial to allowing the supply of ultrafast, reliable and cost-effective broadband in rural areas to help drive productivity, connect communities and reduce the digital divide across the UK.”

Hector Gibson Fleming, CEO at Wessex Internet, said: “This investment from Abrdn is a demonstration of the success of our differentiated strategy. As we accelerate our rollout, we will fulfil our vision of connecting the rest of the communities within our region, creating a truly local broadband operator with a trusted brand that fully understands its customer base.

”We are hugely excited about working with the Abrdn core infrastructure investment team to build on our reputation as we enter this next phase of growth.”

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