Oak Hill Capital acquires Oxford Networks, combines operations with FirstLight Fiber

Oak Hill Capital is acquiring Oxford Networks, a fiber-based provider serving Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts, reflecting the ongoing consolidation of the competitive provider market in the Northeast.

The equity firm will acquire Oxford from its current private equity owners, Novacap and Bank Street Capital Partners.

After meeting customary regulatory approvals, Oak Hill said the deal is set to close in the fourth quarter of 2016. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

But this is not just a simple ownership transfer. Upon completing the acquisition, Oak Hill will combine Oxford's operations with FirstLight Fiber, a fellow Northeast-based fiber provider.

Oak Hill signed an agreement to acquire FirstLight from its current owner, Riverside Partners, in March 2016, which is still subject to prior state and federal regulatory approval.

Novacap, BSCP and Riverside are expected to continue as minority partners alongside Oak Hill in the holding company for FirstLight and Oxford.

A key element of the Oxford and FirstLight Fiber combination will be greater fiber network density. After completing the Oxford and FirstLight transactions, the combined companies will operate in aggregate about 4,800 route miles of fiber and ten data centers, the majority of which are SOC 2 (Service Organization Control) certified, in major markets across New York and New England.

The acquisition will create an even larger competitive threat to Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA) and Charter (NASDAQ: CHTR), particularly as those two MSOs look to penetrate larger businesses in New England. Oxford's presence across Maine, Southern New Hampshire and Northern Massachusetts will complement FirstLight's network across New Hampshire, Vermont and New York.

MVP Capital LLC served as Oxford's exclusive financial advisor in connection with this transaction, and Citizens Capital Markets, Inc. served as financial advisor to Oak Hill. Paul Hastings LLP served as legal counsel to Oxford, and Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP served as legal counsel to Oak Hill.

Oxford and FirstLight on their own have grown their reach through acquisitions.

In 2015, Oxford Networks acquired BayRing Communications. By completing that deal, the combined company had a total of nearly 2,000 route miles of fiber providing access to nearly 50,000 buildings, four SOC 2 data centers, and direct access to all other major hub data centers throughout Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts. It will provide a suite of data center services, managed IT services, voice, Internet, and carrier services.

Likewise, FirstLight Fiber has grown its presence in New England and upstate New York through a series of acquisitions and organic network builds.

Following the change of its name from Tech Valley to FirstLight in late 2013, the service provider, which traces its roots as an Albany, New York-based provider has expanded its network base through three key acquisitions: segTEL, TelJet in Vermont and G4 in New Hampshire. FirstLight also extended its network into the desirable Canadian telecom market via a partnership with Fibrenoire.

For more:
- see the release

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