The pattern of network consolidation continued yesterday with another fiber M&A, this time for an asset I hadn't run into before. The private equity group Novacap TMT has entered into a definitive agreement to purchase Horizon Telcom.
Horizon Telcom operates a fiber network throughout the southeastern half of Ohio. Basically, draw a line from Youngstown to Cincinnati and they hook up much of the landscape between that line and the Ohio River, with an extension into Pennsylvania and a few river crossings into West Virginia and Kentucky.
Novacap TMT brings capital to the table that Horizon will be using to build new fiber, and upon completion of this deal 'and the finalization of new fiber builds', they will operate some 4,500 route miles across the region. They intend to add depth in Columbus in particular, while adding more last mile access overall. For Novacap, the deal is 'a stepping stone' toward a larger Midwestern regional fiber operator. Such a path could be either organic or inorganic of course.
In a way, I'm surprised that if Horizon Telcom was for sale that Everstream or Lumos or FirstLight (or each's private equity backers if you prefer) didn't wind up on the other side of the table, just based on adjacent geographies. They still could, of course. A few years ago Novacap bought Oxford Networks only to flip it to Oak Hill a couple years later where it is now part of FirstLight, and they did something similar with Fibrenoire which they sold to Videotron.