December 21, 2022

UK orders sale of London-based telecommunications company over national security concerns

On December 19, 2022,  UK Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy announced that he had issued a final order requiring LetterOne Core Investment S.a.r.l. to sell Upp Corporation Ltd. (“Upp”), a London-based telecommunications provider.  According to the Secretary of State, the sale is necessary in order to prevent, remedy or mitigate the risk to national security.  The final order, which was issued pursuant to section 26 of the National Security and Investment Act 2021, requires LetterOne to sell 100 percent of Upp within a specified timeframe and by following a specified process.  The decision also requires Upp to conduct a complete security audit of its network prior to the sale.

LetterOne is an international investment company that, according to several media outlets, is owned at least in part by Russian oligarchs Mikhail Fridman and Pyotr Aven.  According to the UK government, LetterOne is also the parent company of L1T FM Holdings UK Ltd., the company that acquired Upp (previously known as Fibre Me Limited) in January 2021.  According to the Secretary of State, the national security risk relates to the ownership of Upp by LetterOne’s beneficial owners and “Upp’s expanding full fibre broadband network.” 

UK government press release