Sky News has learnt that Zzoomm, which has been majority-owned by Oaktree since 2020, is among the bidders for Trooli, which has been put up for sale.
Zzoomm, which is based in Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire, has connected roughly 100,000 domestic and business premises since its launch.
It is understood to have made it through to the second round of an auction being conducted by bankers at Lazard, according to several telecoms industry sources.
Last month, Sky News revealed that Virgin Media O2 and its shareholders are also exploring a bid for Trooli, which could be worth in the region of £100m.
Virgin Media O2, which is jointly owned by Liberty Global and Spain’s Telefonica, is regarded as a leading contender because of its size.
Zzoomm announced in November that it was rolling out its full-fibre infrastructure to market towns including Askern and Upton in Yorkshire, and Calne in Wiltshire.
It has announced ambitions to reach 1m properties.
Trooli is exploring a sale amid growing pressure on the deluge of alternative network – or altnet – providers which have sprung up in the last decade as part of efforts to transform Britain’s communications infrastructure.
The market is dominated by BT’s Openreach division, but also includes large competitors such as CityFibre Holdings.
Trooli is focused on rural and semi-rural postcodes, and has been connecting households to fibre broadband in counties including Berkshire, Dorset and Kent.
It has also set a target of 1m premises, which it had said it wanted to reach by the end of next year.
The pressure to consolidate has arisen as costs have soared, while supply chain and labour issues have also conspired to impair altnets’ path to profitability.
Trooli raised nearly £70m of senior debt in August 2021 to help it expand.
Its shareholders are understood to largely comprise its management team. Sky News