Wragges advises Gigaclear on investment to extend rural broadband infrastructure

Fibre broadband provider Gigaclear has been awarded a €25m committed debt facility from the European Investment Bank (EIB), the largest loan of its kind awarded to a British company.

Wragge Lawrence Graham & Co (WLG) advised Gigaclear on the terms of the EIB loan, negotiating the agreement and related documents alongside Brian Robertson of Cameron Barney, Gigaclear’s corporate finance adviser.

The loan will help Gigaclear to almost treble the size of its broadband network and bring some of the fastest internet speeds available to at least 40,000 properties across rural Britain in 2016.

Banking & finance partner Chris Brierley led the transaction with assistance from principal associate Navin Prabhakar.

Simon Bullock, Chief Financial Officer at Gigaclear, said: “Delivering the best broadband in the UK required the best corporate and legal support; WLG continues to play a key role in delivering our strategy. The latest fundraising will enable us to continue improving the lives of rural communities for years to come.

“The team brought with it both an in-depth understanding of our business and long-term plans, as well as an understanding of the EIB’s approach, which was crucial to this transaction closing successfully.”

WLG’s banking and finance team has extensive experience advising borrowers on EIB financings, including the EIB’s £350m loan to Sanctuary Housing Association in 2014, the largest direct loan by the EIB to the social housing sector.

Chris Brierley added: “An estimated 1.5 million properties across Britain could potentially benefit from Gigaclear’s services, so we’re thrilled to have helped the team at Gigaclear reach this landmark stage in their growth. We look forward to working with them as they continue to transform lives and businesses in rural communities.”

The loan to Gigaclear is the maximum available to companies under the ‘InnovFin – EU Finance for Innovators’ MidCap Growth Finance scheme and is the largest amount the EIB has awarded to any UK business under the InnovFin initiative.

WLG equity capital markets partner Jeffrey Elway also continues to work with Gigaclear on other fundraisings, having previously advised on investments from Prudential and Woodford.