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Onecom picks up Olive Communications

Combination of two of Vodafone’s largest partners, Onecom and Olive, will create a communications powerhouse

Onecom has made a move to significantly bolster its UK market position by acquiring its rival Olive Communications.

The resulting tie-up will create one of the largest mobile, fixed line and cloud specialists in the UK and bring together two of Vodafone’s most important partners. The combined firm will be serving more than 500,000 business users this year, with an annual turnover of more than £140m.

Martin Frick, chief executive of Olive, has become CEO of Onecom Group, and founder of Onceom Darren Ridge will remain a significant shareholder and a non-executive director.

The deal would not have been possible without the backing of private equity player LDC, which invested £100m in Onecom  in July 2019. The Olive deal is a chance for capital investor BGF, which put £10m into Olive in 2016 to exit the business.

“We have seen Olive as healthy competitors for years, and its market reputation for delivering cloud services is unrivalled. The inevitable changes to working patterns across the UK and globally as a result of the pandemic have accelerated the need for integrated cloud communications and significantly increased demand for transformation and digitalisation,” said Ridge.

“Bringing these two businesses together will significantly benefit our customers, partners and stakeholders and employees.”

In response, Flick said that the combined forces of the two firms would be “the envy of the industry”.

“Our combined scale, expertise, experience and proximity to customer need affords us the perfect proposition to help customers of all sizes to navigate their journey through the short- and long-term economic landscape, leveraging technology from our established and emerging strategic partnerships, including Vodafone, Mitel, Google, Microsoft and others,” he said.

“Our ultimate objective this year is to help our customers continue to navigate the pandemic, and to be market-ready to transform, adapt and evolve their businesses with innovative cloud communications technologies that will empower UK PLC.”

The terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Olive was a business generating £31m in annual revenues, and last year picked up Vodafone’s Innovation Partner of the Year award.

Yann Souillard, head of London at LDC, said that it had a clear understanding of the strategy at Onceom and had backed its growth ambitions.

“This marks the third acquisition Onecom has made since we invested in the business back in July 2019, and the combination of Olive and Onecom is a force to be reckoned with in the UK B2B telecoms market. At LDC, we understand how a buy and build growth strategy can create scale and resilience,” he said.

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