Jan 26, 2023
UK Rail Network in Talks With Cellnex to Upgrade Aging Broadband
(Bloomberg) -- The company that manages Britain’s railroads is in exclusive talks with a consortium of Spain’s Cellnex Telecom SA and the UK’s Neos Networks Ltd. to upgrade broadband infrastructure along its 16,000 kilometers (10,000 miles) of track, according to two people familiar with the matter.
The negotiations are complex and it could still take months before an agreement is signed, according to the people, who asked not to be identified because the talks are private. No final decisions have been made and the deal may still fall apart, they said.
Neos — which is half-owned by Infracapital, an arm of M&G Plc, and half by SSE Plc — didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. Representatives for Network Rail, Infracapital and Cellnex declined to comment. SSE didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Network Rail, which manages the UK rail network for the government, said in a statement Tuesday it has entered exclusive negotiations with a consortium it didn’t identify. The parties expect to reach a deal by mid-2023, it said.
The railroad operator, which started searching for partners to fund a fiber-optic network along its routes in 2020, is being advised by Lazard Ltd. Private investors will help upgrade Network Rail’s telecommunications infrastructure with high-speed fiber and additional mobile towers in return for commercial rights to the network.
Cellnex signed a 25-year deal with Network Rail in 2021 to upgrade the telecommunications for the railroad from London to the south coast city of Brighton.
Neos operates 34,000 kilometers of networks across Britain, according to its website.
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