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Livingbridge invests in Metronet (UK)

Livingbridge today announced the £45m secondary buyout of Metronet (UK) Limited (“Metronet (UK)”) from Lloyds Development Capital (“LDC”). The investment is the fifth in Living Bridge 5, a £360m 2012 vintage fund.

Based in Manchester, Metronet (UK) is a business only Internet Services Provider that combines innovative wireless technology with traditional fibre to deliver connectivity solutions from leased lines to complex, multi site networks across the UK. Using wireless connectivity rather than fibre liberates its customers from reliance upon third party fibre and exchanges and its wireless solutions are:

• Highly reliable and resilient;
• Secure and uncontended (not shared);
• Very fast to install (5 to 10 days);
• Not reliant upon 3rd party (typically BT) installation, connection, or exchanges;
• Uniquely flexible on cost, speed and physical location;
• Supported by excellent customer service.

Founded in 2003, Metronet (UK) has grown very rapidly from its Manchester base into Lancashire, Cheshire, Liverpool, Leeds and Birmingham and is now expanding further afield. Widespread adoption of Cloud based services has seen customer growth accelerate and the company now has over 1,200 customers including Laing O’Rourke, Autotrader, Capgemini and Umbro.

Elliott Mueller, CEO, has led the business since 2007, alongside James McCall, who founded Metronet (UK) in 2003 with the operational team of Steven Axon, Craig Timmis and Lee Lawrence. Together they have built a strong team around them. In 2014, they collectively won the BVCA Mid-Market Private Equity backed Management Team of the Year in the North West.

The investment by Livingbridge will support the business as it continues its rapid growth into new and existing territories. In the medium to long term, the company seeks to create the UK’s first ubiquitous wireless network infrastructure.

Since LDC backed the MBO of Metronet (UK) in 2012, revenue at the business has grown by 98%, while EBITDA has risen by 83% over the same period. LDC secured a 4x money equity return on its equity investment.

Metronet (UK) was advised by Stuart Lees from Altium, who worked alongside the team on the original LDC buyout. The Acquisition Finance team at Lloyds Bank commercial banking provided senior debt facilities to support the transaction. Matthew Caffrey and Mark Advani from Livingbridge will join the Board and were supported on the transaction by Mo Aneese and Xavier Woodward.

Elliott Mueller, CEO, Metronet (UK), comments:
“Metronet (UK) is entering a very exciting phase of growth and we have some major plans to invest in the network over the coming years to support geographic expansion. The investment from Livingbridge will help us realise our ambition to build Metronet (UK) into the country’s leading B2B Internet Service Provider.”

Matthew Caffrey, Livingbridge, comments:
“Livingbridge is backing an outstanding team and a compelling, disruptive customer proposition that is competitively and technologically differentiated from other ISPs by its wireless technology. We are very excited to partner with Metronet (UK) during its next phase of growth and look forward to continued expansion and success.”

Jonathan Bell, Director and Co-Head of LDC in the North West, said:
“Over the past two years, we have worked hard to support Metronet (UK)’s growth aspirations as it capitalises on rapidly developing networking technology and demand for connectivity. Our investment has provided tangible, transformative change which has helped to establish the business as a leader in the UK Internet service market. We wish Elliott, the rest of the management team and staff all the best as Metronet (UK) takes its next steps on its growth journey.”

Stuart Lees, Managing Director, Altium:
“Altium is delighted to have supported the next stage in Metronet (UK)’s exciting development. The Company’s customer service, forward looking management team and unique business model are of the highest quality.”