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Sunrise turns to Salt for Swiss fibre JV

Swiss service provider Sunrise has teamed up with rival alternative provider Salt to create a JV to deploy FTTH networks across the country.

The new company, Swiss Open Fiber, will be co-owned by Salt and Sunrise with equal shareholding alongside another prospective equity partner.

The goal is for Swiss Open Fiber to reach 1.5 million homes passed in the coming five to seven years, for a total investment of up to CHF3 billion (€2.8 billion).

Sunrise said the initiative will support areas in Switzerland that are undersupplied with state-of-the-art broadband services as well as further promote digitalization also in non-urban areas. Salt and Sunrise will be anchor tenants, but the pair said the infrastructure network will be offered to all retail operators to enable them to provide their customers with ultrafast broadband connectivity services.

Sunrise and Salt said they have already initiated discussions with potential equity partners and financing banks. Network roll-out operations are expected to begin in the fourth quarter.

Sunrise’s partnership with Salt comes after the high-profile collapse of its planned acquisition of Liberty Global-owned cable operator UPC Switzerland last year.

Swiss Open Fiber will collaborate with Swiss Fibre Net, a joint venture of local and regional energy companies to combine their fibre network efforts, of which Salt is already a partner, which will support the set-up and operating activities of the new company in a strategic partnership.

Salt and Sunrise have engaged Lazard and Morgan Stanley as financial advisors, respectively.

André Krause, CEO of Sunrise, said: “We are excited to embark on this Joint Venture which will accelerate ultrafast broadband connectivity and significantly improve fiber penetration in Switzerland relative to other European countries. This platform is open and transparent to the market and we are extremely happy to have secured Marc Furrer, the most distinguished expert in the domestic market, to chair Swiss Open Fiber.”

Pascal Grieder, CEO of Salt, said: “This project is unique of its kind, leveraging the capabilities and reach of two strong Swiss operators to create a nationwide infrastructure. Growing importance of flexible and virtual working and learning models will continue to drive the need for high-performance broadband services across Swiss households, and our initiative will facilitate such services at attractive prices. We have an ambitious roll-out plan and encourage municipalities and utilities looking into FTTH deployment to reach out to us. We are open for business.”