Oak Hill-backed FirstLight to acquire 186 Communications

FirstLight, which is backed by Oak Hill Capital Partners, has agreed to buy Nashua, New Hampshire-based 186 Communications, a fiber optic network operator. No financial terms were disclosed. The deal is expected to close at the end of this year. Bank Street Group LLC provided financial advice to 186 on the transaction.


ALBANY, NY–(Marketwired – Jul 12, 2017) – FirstLight, a leading fiber-optic bandwidth infrastructure services provider operating in the Northeast, announced today that it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire 186 Communications (“186”).

The transaction will combine 186’s high-capacity fiber network in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont with FirstLight’s expansive fiber network and complete portfolio of data, Internet, data center, cloud and voice services. Upon completion of this transaction, and FirstLight’s other pending acquisition of Finger Lakes Technologies Group, the company will operate approximately 14,000 route miles of high-capacity fiber-optic network connecting nearly 8,000 locations and twelve data centers across the Northeast.

186’s CEO Rob Carmichael said, “I am pleased that 186 Communications will be combined with FirstLight. The companies have collaborated many times over the years, and now as one organization, we will be better positioned to continue to serve the growing bandwidth needs of businesses throughout the Northeast.”

FirstLight’s President and CEO Kurt Van Wagenen said, “This is another exciting development for FirstLight. This acquisition is very complementary to FirstLight’s existing network and capabilities. It extends our network reach further into Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont, adds an impressive roster of customers, and builds on the strong, positive momentum we have had over the past several years.”

Scott Baker and Benjy Diesbach, Partners at Oak Hill and members of the FirstLight Board of Directors, added, “This acquisition represents the next logical step in a series of strategic transactions that have dramatically transformed FirstLight into one of the largest fiber providers serving the IT infrastructure needs of carriers and business customers throughout the Northeast.”

Bank Street Group LLC served as exclusive financial advisor to 186, and Hinckley, Allen & Snyder LLP acted as legal counsel. Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP served as legal counsel to FirstLight and Oak Hill Capital Partners. The transaction is expected to close at the end of 2017, following the satisfaction of customary regulatory approvals. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

About FirstLight
FirstLight, headquartered in Albany, New York, provides fiber-optic data, Internet, data center, cloud and voice services to enterprise and carrier customers throughout the Northeast connecting more than 5,500 locations in service with more than 20,000 locations serviceable by our 10,000 route mile network. FirstLight offers a robust suite of advanced telecommunications products featuring a comprehensive portfolio of high bandwidth connectivity solutions including Ethernet, wavelength and dark fiber services as well as dedicated Internet access solutions, data center, cloud and voice services. FirstLight’s clientele includes national cellular providers and wireline carriers and many leading enterprises, spanning high tech manufacturing and research, hospitals and healthcare, banking and financial, secondary education, colleges and universities, and local and state governments.

To learn more about FirstLight, visit www.firstlight.net, or follow the company on Twitter and LinkedIn.

About 186 Communications
Headquartered in Nashua, NH, 186 Communications operates and maintains a fiber optic network serving local, national, and global broadband providers and enterprise customers. Their core Northeast network consists of 1,900 route miles of fiber. 186 is also a member of the Joint Trench Partnership (JTP) in Boston and has a fiber ring in each of the A, B, and E loops. 186 built two fiber routes from points in NH to Boston and interconnect them with the JTP rings. They also manage three colocation facilities including one located at their Nashua HQ facility. Visit www.186comm.com for more information.

About Oak Hill Capital Partners
Oak Hill is a private equity firm managing funds with more than $10 billion of initial capital commitments since inception from leading entrepreneurs, endowments, foundations, corporations, pension funds, and global financial institutions. Over the past 30 years, the professionals at Oak Hill and its predecessors have invested in 84 significant private equity transactions across broad segments of the U.S. and global economies. Oak Hill applies an industry-focused, theme-based approach to investing in the following sectors: Consumer, Retail & Distribution; Industrials; Media & Communications; and Services. Oak Hill works actively in partnership with management to implement strategic and operational initiatives to create franchise value. For more information, please visit www.oakhillcapital.com.