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GCI adds UC to the managed services mix with Freedom Communications buy

GCI has started the year much as it carried out the last one with an acquisition to extend the options it can deliver to customers

Managed services player GCI has brushed off the corporate cheque book for a fifth time in a year as it acquires unified comms specialist Freedom Communications.

GCI has been busy expanding the business through acquisition and hit the headlines in June because of its decision to pick up the assets of cloud player Outsourcery.

This latest deal, for which the terms remain undisclosed, will see unified comms expertise added to the mix with Freedom offering a strong foothold in the public sector, where it is listed on 9 of the 11 lots in the RM1045 Network Services Framework.

Freedom also has a very strong Microsoft background and will add 40,000 Skype for Business seats to take GCI's customer base in that area to more than 180,000 strong.

"Our acquisition of Freedom is another steady step in our journey to deliver progressive and cost efficient managed services to all our customers. Freedom’s heritage and skills as a Unified Communications Systems Integrator, and its focus on transitioning customers from old world to new, is perfectly aligned with our own growth strategy and is a great fit for us," said Adrian Thirkill, CEO of GCI.

He said that it had a strategy that concentrated on specific areas, which it expected to be the places that would see the most customer activity.

“We are very clear that within the range of IT services now available, some will be real winners in the digital transformation stakes - and therefore winners for our customers too. We are backing the big four of Unified Communications, Cloud, Compliance & Security - underpinned of course by next generation Infrastructure & Networking technologies," he added.

Pat Botting, managing director of Freedom Communications, said that the deal was the "most significant that the UK unified communications market has seen to date", because it combined its expertise with GCI's managed services expertise.

The GCI warchest

Back in October last year the managed services player revealed that it had gained access to a £50m acquisition growth fund. That warchest was designed to give the firm access to the capital needed to expand the business. The fund was facilitated via the Royal Bank of Scotland and HSBC with GCI’s CFO Mark Allen leading the process, which was brokered with the support of KPMG.

With both firms being Microsoft partners the deal was also given the thumbs up by Clare Barclay, UK general manager at the softwarwe giant, who could see the benefits of adding UC to an existing cloud-based managed services approach.

"The collective strengths and learnings across the blended GCI, Outsourcery, Freedom Communications operation means that customers are in a great position to benefit from its expertise in Microsoft Office 365, Skype for Business and Azure," she said.

“When I met with GCI on their stand at Future Decoded in London a few short weeks ago, I said that I was confident about the opportunities we had to work together and I am delighted to see GCI forging ahead now with further unified communications and cloud investments. Freedom Communications is of course already well known to us as a leading Microsoft partner and has a great track record," she added.

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