With Macquarie now in the ownership chair, Bluebird Network appears to be on the M&A hunt. But before doing anything dramatic, they are first taking care of some business within their own sphere of influence. Bluebird has announced a deal to acquire the Illinois Network Alliance.
Those who pay attention to these things will notice a bit of redundancy. Bluebird Network was originally born out of the 'integration' of Blubird Media, the Missouri Network Alliance, and the Illinois Network Alliance back in 2011. But for the Illinois Network Alliance, that has meant that management by Bluebird while ownership remained in the hands of the independent Illinois telcos that started it. It is that unfinished business that Bluebird is taking care of with this purchase: officially buying the assets it is already managing.
The deal is expected to close by the end of Q2 of 2020. Not much integration will be required, and in fact not much will change at all out in the field. It does simplify things for Bluebird though, which will make additional M&A powered by Macquarie's deep pockets a bit easier going forward.
On a related note, as part of the Macquarie deal, Bluebird sold and leased back its actual fiber to Uniti in a complex transaction. I'm curious now whether that included the INA's fiber already, and if not might they do a followup deal with Uniti to do the same thing.
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