Sheffield broadband firm ASK4 in £21.5m buy-out deal

Jonathan Burrows, managing director ASK4, Devonshire Green House, Fitzwilliam Street, Sheffiled.
Jonathan Burrows, managing director ASK4, Devonshire Green House, Fitzwilliam Street, Sheffiled.

A private equity company has done a £21.5m deal to buy a majority stake in Sheffield broadband firm ASK4, in a huge endorsement of founder Jonathan Burrows.

He will continue as managing director as the firm prepares for significant, but undisclosed, investment.

The business, of Fitzwilliam Street in Sheffield city centre, employs more than 100 and recorded revenues of £10.2m in 2013. It specialises in student accommodation and has more 100,000 users across the UK as well as 400 businesses. It also operates a 180-rack tier-two data centre in the city.

Jonathan Burrows said: “With demand greater than ever for reliable, high speed internet services, the timing is perfect for us to bring in external investment that will help us take the business into a new phase of growth.

“The team at Darwin has impressed us with its focus and understanding of our market. With its support, we are committed to developing our technology offering and continue to deliver value, innovation and quality service to our customers.”

ASK4 started in 2000 providing internet access to private residential multi-tenant buildings, when Jonathan Burrows was just 19

His first job was on a small block of flats on Penistone Road. He followed it up by targeting the 600-apartment West One development which was being built at the time.

He told The Star in 2012: “The big challenge was to persuade the developers to let us in. But I just ground them down. I kept going at it over a period of time and because buildings take several years there was a window to have those conversations.”

It was a breakthrough deal and ASK4 soared on the city living boom. As that died away, it entered the student accommodation sector in 2005 following the acquisition of Horizon Telecoms, established by Jonathan Hudson.

At times the firm was experiencing 40 per cent growth and in 2012 it connected a then record 102 buildings.

Nick Jordan, partner of Darwin Private Equity, who will join the board at ASK4, commented: “ASK4 has transformed over the past decade to establish itself as one of the leading players in the high growth broadband and TV services market for student accommodation and other multi-tenant buildings. “Having built an exceptional reputation with its customers through its focus on quality, we look forward to developing our partnership with Jonathan and the rest of the team, who are well placed to capitalise on a number of growth opportunities.”

ASK4 has refinanced with Investec Growth & Acquisition Finance.