Virtua receives £4.6m and merges with Astral

By Anita Jaynes on 30 September, 2015

Specialist telecoms engineering firm Virtua UK has secured £4.6million in growth capital from a group of private investors.
The deal, structured and managed by Connection Capital, incorporated over 70 clients participating in the investment, each contributing at least £25,000 to help drive accelerated growth by enabling the firm to bid for more and larger contracts and fund targeted acquisitions.

In a separate transaction Swindon-based Virtua has also acquired Astral Specialist Contracts Ltd, a leading telecommunication engineering and rigging company, based in Warwickshire. As a result of the two businesses combined, the company is planning significant growth as their market, the building of 4G and broadcast networks also grows.

The company will now employ more than 170 staff across a number of offices within the UK, including Brinkworth near Swindon and Compton Verney in Warwickshire, and expects to expand its workforce further.

Virtua provides a full range of engineering services on behalf of many of the major UK mobile networks. These include the full suite of services for expanding and upgrading 3G/4G and wireless network infrastructure – from design, installation and project management to testing and optimisation.

The company’s work also includes projects for other blue chip clients including in-build projects for commercial estate owners of major developments such as Terminal 2, Wembley Stadium and the “Walkie Talkie” skyscraper in London.

Virtua was established in 2000 and in 2013 it acquired Custom Communications, based in Hertfordshire. Andy Watts, managing director since 2008, has seen the business turnover grow considerably from £3.5m in 2012 to £11m in the current financial year.
Andy said: “The acquisition of Astral and the investment capital are two great pieces of news, two deals which will help us serve our customers and our staff better through growth.

“For a while, many of our biggest customers have said they would love to give us more business if we had the resources to take it on. Now we have the capability to do so.

“We’re growing our company and hiring great people.  We are pretty picky, we only want people who share our commitment to serving customers well through hard work and great skills.”

Andy Gates, one of the directors and founders at Astral, helped form the business six years ago to provide a mixture of rigging and specialist access teams.

Andy said: “The general management of the company will stay the same, although it’s natural that there will be some integration between the new companies.

“Overall, this is great news for us at Astral and it’s an exciting time for all of our staff. It’s going to be a pretty powerful company with lots of great people in, which customers will love to do business with.”

Miles Otway, Partner at Connection Capital said: “Virtua is a well-established, high quality business operating in an exciting and expanding sector, with a blue chip customer base, a well-invested platform for growth and an experienced, forward-thinking management team behind it – all of which made it a very attractive opportunity for Connection Capital’s clients.

“Demand for Virtua’s services is expected to increase in the short and medium term, as 3G and 4G continue to roll out and with 5G on the horizon. Strong consumer demand is driving market growth, while the business is well-placed to capitalise on industry developments such as the consolidation in the sector and rationalisation of supply chains to higher quality providers like Virtua.”

Pictured above:Andy Watts, managing director of Virtua UK