A TELECOMS firm has acquired its closest rival in a move which it says creates the largest UK player in its field.

Hampshire-based Onecom has bought Olive Communications to form the largest business-to-business mobile, fixed-line and cloud specialist in the UK.

Together, Onecom and Olive will provide services to more than 500,000 corporate and business users this year, generating combined annual turnover of more than £140million, an announcmeent said.

The deal sees Olive’s chief executive, Martin Flick, become chief executive of Onecom Group. Darren Ridge, who founded Onecom in 2002 and has grown it to achieve annual revenues of more than £90m, remains a significant shareholder and will stay as a non-executive director.

Onecom wins at Mobile Industry Awards

The expanded Onecom Group will continue to be headquartered at Whiteley.

The acquisition was supported with follow-on funding from private equity firm LDC, which invested in Onecom in a £100m deal in July 2019 to fuel a three-year growth strategy.

Darren Ridge said: “I’m really proud of all that we have achieved so far at Onecom in leading the market to deliver exceptional service to our customers and forming strong relationships with key partners.

“We have seen Olive as healthy competitors for years, and their market reputation for delivering cloud services is unrivalled. The inevitable changes to working patterns across the UK and globally as a result of the pandemic have accelerated the need for integrated cloud communications and significantly increased demand for transformation and digitalisation.

“Bringing these two businesses together will significantly benefit our customers, partners and stakeholders and employees. I look forward to supporting Martin and the leadership team on this next chapter of our journey together.”

Discounted Fitbit devices to get company staff exercising

Martin Flick said: “I’m delighted that Darren and the Onecom board have given me the opportunity to bring these two fantastic businesses together, boasting a combined talent pool that is the envy of the industry. This, coupled with ongoing support from LDC, will supercharge our ambitions.

“Our combined scale, expertise, experience and proximity to customer need affords us the perfect proposition to help customers of all sizes to navigate their journey through the short and long term economic landscape, leveraging technology from our established and emerging strategic partnerships, including Vodafone, Mitel, Google, Microsoft and others.

“Our ultimate objective this year is to help our customers continue to navigate the pandemic, and to be market-ready to transform, adapt and evolve their businesses with innovative cloud communications technologies that will empower UK PLC.”

Buckinghamshire-based Olive Communications has grown through organic means and acquisitions to more than £31m in annual revenue, going from “mobile only” to becoming a leading cloud communications provider.

Onecom has been recognised as Vodafone Strategic Partner of the Year for 10 years, while in 2020, Olive was awarded Vodafone’s Innovation Partner of the Year Award.

The growth capital investor BGF, which invested £10m into Olive in 2016, has exited the business under the latest deal.

Yann Souillard, head of London at LDC, said: “This marks the third acquisition Onecom has made since we invested in the business back in July 2019, and the combination of Olive and Onecom is a force to be reckoned with in the UK B2B telecoms market.”