Australian investment bank Macquarie has continued its UK media services acquisiton spree, buying up National Grid Wireless, the network infrastructure arm of National Grid plc for £2.5bn in cash. In 2004 Macquarie purchased the transmission operation of cable group ntl for £1.27bn, and later renamed the company Arqiva. Then a year later Macquarie acquired the BBC's digial playout centre for £166m, and renamed it Red Bee Media.
As well as operating a wireless network with 5,000 active sites for mobile communications, and 750 broadcast towers for television transmission, National Grid Wireless owns licences for two digital terrestrial television multiplexes, and is a one-fifth shareholder in the company that manages Freeview.
Arqiva said it would merge its transmission business with that of National Grid Wireless', creating a "single, strong and efficient organisation that will be better able to support the delivery of all-digital transmission services in the future".
Arqiva CEO Tom Bennie said: "We will be able to deliver large-scale projects of national importance, such as digital switchover, much more effectively and efficiently.
"This will also enhance our prospects in the mobile outsourcing market. Having a single broadcast transmission service provider brings the UK into line with most of the rest of the world. The UK's terrestrial broadcast transmission network will be in a much better position to ensure that terrestrial broadcasting remains a powerful and innovative service in the future."
National Grid CEO Steve Holliday said: "We are delighted with the outcome of this transaction, which has secured an attractive premium for a great business which we have grown successfully."
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