An Australian investment fund is to buy an ultra-fast broadband fibre network covering much of the central North island.

First State Investments (FSI) will buy the Hamilton-based Ultrafast Fibre from electricity distributors WEL Networks and Waipa Networks for a total of $854 million.

WEL Group Chairman Rob Campbell said the fibre investment had been financially successful for the company, but it needed the capital for other investments.

“The UFF sale enables WEL Networks to strengthen the core electricity business balance sheet, allowing us to pursue new opportunities and invest in innovative energy solutions in accordance with our business strategy,” Campbell said.

He said $200m of the payment would be withheld for 18 months following the completion of the deal.

WEL owns 85 percent of the fibre company and Waipa the remaining 15 percent.

The UFF network covers Hamilton and major centres throughout Waikato, Tauranga, Taranaki and Whanganui, and was part of the state-backed nationwide fast broadband rollout.

FSI already owns gas pipelines in New Zealand, and said it regarded the fibre network as an important infrastructure investment.

This article was originally published on RNZ and re-published with permission.

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