Its been on the cards for long time, but today O2 finally ended months of speculation by announcing that a private equity firm has purchased the operator’s emergency services digital radio network, O2 Airwave.
Unlike some assets stripping private equity firm, this firm claims that they have purchased O2 Airware, which will now be called Guardian Digital Communications, as a long-term investment. In fact, Jim Craig, head of the firm, “we are committed to a minimum of 10 years and plan to be involved with Airwave longer.”
The private equity company is owned jointly by two of Australian bank Macquarie‘s managed infrastructure funds: Macquarie European Infrastructure Fund II and Macquarie Communications Infrastructure Group. No one is sure about the precise details of the deal but it though they are paying about £2bn for Airware.
According to Airwave’s website they are: “… a secure digital radio network dedicated for the exclusive use of the UK’s emergency and public safety services (not including 3g mobile services). Designed to carry voice and data communications, the service offers guaranteed levels of coverage across England, Wales and Scotland. This means that users can stay in instant communication even in remote areas or within confined spaces of buildings and tunnels where radio coverage has often failed in the past.”
Airwave has recently won several important contracts including a £48m deal with the Scottish Ambulance Service, a £32m contract with their Welsh counterparts, and most importantly a £115m agreement to kit out London Underground.
Jim Craig, said: “Airwave is the largest built-for-purpose public safety communications network globally, with unique capabilities. There is potential to leverage the company’s skills and unique know-how in the international field, as overseas governments modernise their emergency communications.”