oak hill+oxford

Oxford Networks, which provides fiber-optic bandwidth infrastructure services in Maine, Massachusetts and New Hampshire, has entered into a definitive agreement to be acquired by Oak Hill Capital Partners. The move advances the Oak Hill Capital Partners fiber strategy, which is focused on building a major network operator in the northeastern U.S.

Oak Hill will acquire Oxford Networks from its current owners, private equity groups Novacap and Bank Street Capital Partners, according to a press release. Terms and conditions of the deal, including acquisition price, were not disclosed.

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“The team at Oxford has been successful in transforming the company from a local exchange carrier into a strategic provider of next gen telecommunications and IT services, including a world class fiber optics network, hosted PBX, cloud services and others,¨ Oxford Networks’ President and CEO Craig Gunderson was quoted. ¨We are excited for the next stage of growth, as we will be able to better serve our customers through the expanded network, data centers and product portfolio.”

Oak Hill Capital Partners Fiber Strategy
With the deal expected to close in 4Q, Oak Hill will merge Oxford Networks with FirstLight Fiber, another northeastern U.S. fiber network provider that Oak Hill is in the midst of acquiring from Riverside Partners. That deal was announced March 16.

Acquisitions have also played an important role in Albany, New York-based FirstLight Fiber’s growth since Riverside Partners acquired the company. FirstLight announced it was acquiring essentially all the assets of New Hampshire’s G4 Communications – including its customer base and a data center in Manchester – back in August 2014.

Novacap, Bank Street Capital Partners and Riverside are expected to retain a role as minority partners in the holding company that Oak Hill intends to establish for FirstLight and Oxford Networks.

Oxford Networks’ origins stretch back more than 100 years to when the company was created to provide local telephone services. Much more recently, management has invested in fiber network infrastructure and cloud services and made acquisitions, such as the 2015 acquisition of neighboring BayRing Communications.

Oxford Networks’ core revenues doubled while the company expanded its fiber network footprint to Boston under present ownership, according to the press release. Given that the Oxford and FirstLight acquisitions are completed, the combined company will own and operate a high-capacity fiber network spanning some 4,800 route miles and including 10 data centers, most of which are certified SOC 2 (Service Organization Control).

Oak Hill Capital Partners fiber optic network will span a large portion of the northeastern U.S. should the investment firm’s two recent acquisitions be approved by regulatory authorities. Oxford Networks operates in Maine, southern New Hampshire and northern Massachusetts, which will complement FirstLight’s operations in New Hampshire, Vermont and New York.

As Oak Hill Partner Scott Baker explained: “The acquisition of Oxford Networks represents a key next step in the execution of Oak Hill’s vision to create a leading fiber provider in the Northeastern U.S.

¨Together with FirstLight, Oxford will be able to offer comprehensive solutions to leading regional enterprises and telecommunications carriers, while also maintaining focus on providing the highest levels of customer service to the companies’ local business communities.”

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