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Private Equity Firm to Acquire FirstLight Fiber

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**Editor’s Note: Please click here for a recap of the biggest channel-impacting mergers in Jan.-Feb. 2015.**

Fiber-optic bandwidth infrastructure services provider FirstLight Fiber on Wednesday announced it is being acquired by private equity firm Oak Hill Capital Partners.

FirstLight Fiber's Mark AyotteUnder the terms of the agreement, Oak Hill will acquire the company from its current private equity owner, Riverside Partners. When the acquisition is final, Riverside is expected to continue as a minority investor in FirstLight. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

FirstLight operates in New York and northern New England. Its clientele includes national cellular providers and wireline carriers, and enterprises spanning high-tech manufacturing and research, hospitals and health care, banking and financial, secondary education, colleges and universities, and local and state governments.

Mark Ayotte, FirstLight’s senior director of alternate channels, tells Channel Partners the acquisition is “all about accelerating FirstLight’s growth.” FirstLight’s channel program includes 17 partners signed on to promote its services, including master agents, VARs and resellers.

“Through this relationship, FirstLight will continue to have access to the resources necessary to provide the services and capabilities that our partners need to successfully offer solutions to their clients,” he said. “What this means to our partners is that they should expect that FirstLight will continue to add markets (similar to our network expansion into Westchester, Orange and Rockland counties), continue to add services that our partners can market, and add resources.”{ad}

FirstLight started as an Albany, New York-focused fiber provider and expanded through the acquisitions of segTEL and G4 in New Hampshire, and TelJet in Vermont. During Riverside’s investment period, FirstLight expanded its fiber route from 199 miles to more than 2,500 miles, and today operates a network of more than 260,000 fiber miles with more than 2,000 on-net locations and 14,000 near-net buildings.

“Our partners have and will continue to play a critical role in helping to ensure that our service set is relevant in the marketplace, and we expect that this channel for FirstLight will continue to grow and prosper over time, which will make a meaningful contribution to FirstLight’s revenue growth and mix,” Ayotte said.

The transaction is expected to close in the third quarter.

“FirstLight possesses all of the attractive characteristics and growth potential that Oak Hill seeks in our fiber investments,” said Scott Baker, a partner at Oak Hill. “We see tremendous opportunity to create additional value by continuing to expand FirstLight’s fiber footprint while also pursuing acquisitions.”


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