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Woodford ploughs £10m into rural broadband firm Gigaclear

Neil Woodford increases his stake in Gigaclear, which was the first unlisted investment in his Equity Income fund.

 
Woodford ploughs £10m into rural broadband firm Gigaclear

Neil Woodford has poured £10 million into rural broadband company Gigaclear, building on his stake in the unlisted company through the funds he runs.

Woodford Investment Management would not confirm whether the fresh investment gives the manager's new investment trust, Woodford Patient Capital Trust (WPCT ), a stake in Gigaclear. Woodford's previous investments in the business used money from his Woodford Equity Income fund.

In July last year, Woodford invested £5 million in the business, and in February this year took part in an additional £6.5 million fundraising. Gigaclear had announced plans for an initial public offering in October 2014, but it has so far failed to materialise.

Woodford has been putting the £800 million raised for WPCT to work, making his first investment for the trust, in Alternative Investment Market-listed Sphere Medical Holding (SPHR), last month. That was followed by a stake in Kymab, a Cambridge biotechnology company seeking a cure for the deadly Ebola disease.

Insurance company Prudential (PRU) has invested £20 million in Gigaclear alongside Woodford, through its infrastructure investment arm Infracapital.

The firm will use the investment to accelerate the build of new ‘fibre-to-the-premises’ networks in rural areas in an effort to deliver broadband to homes and businesses.  

Gigaclear chief executive Matthew Hare said: 'Securing this new investment from Prudential and Woodford is a major breakthrough for Gigaclear. We see Prudential and Woodford’s investments as a strong endorsement of our business plan to become the largest rural fibre-to-the-premises provider in the UK, bridging that divide by building ultrafast, pure fibre networks.

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