Macquarie to unite Arqiva and NGW networks

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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