Apollo taps former Verizon execs to lead $2B fiber charge with Lumen assets

Investment firm Apollo Global Management unveiled a plan to deploy fiber to 3 million locations across the 20-state ILEC footprint it acquired from Lumen Technologies earlier this year and installed a team of former Verizon executives to oversee the rollout.

Apollo’s $7.5 billion deal with Lumen is set to close in the second half of 2022. Once it does, Apollo said in a press release the ILEC assets will become part of a company called Brightspeed, which will have its headquarters in Charlotte, North Carolina. Over the next five years, Brightspeed will invest $2 billion to deploy fiber to millions of locations across the Midwest, Southeast and parts of Pennsylvania and New Jersey, including in areas where fiber hasn’t historically been available.

The deployment will be overseen by a leadership team comprised of former Verizon executives. Robert Mudge was appointed Brightspeed’s CEO and will serve alongside Chief Operating Officer Tom Maguire, Chief Administration Officer Chris Creager and Chief Technology Officer Ashok Kumar.

“We know what it takes to drive industry change,” Creager said in a statement. “While the investment and transformation we are planning are bold, we are confident we will have the right team members, partners and resources to bring fast, reliable and user-friendly internet to the communities that need it most.”

RELATED: Lumen inks $7.5B deal to sell ILEC assets to Apollo

Mudge most recently served as a board member at Windstream and UniTek Global Services. Before that he held various positions at Verizon, including president of consumer and mass business markets and EVP of network operations. He ended his tenure there as EVP of strategic initiatives, with responsibility for design and construction of Verizon’s fiber network and the integration of XO Communications.

Maguire, meanwhile, served as SVP and COO for wireline operations in Verizon’s East Coast area before being promoted to SVP of National Operations Support. Creager held positions at Verizon as president of national operations, SVP of product development and president of California, Texas and Florida. Kumar’s experience includes roles as director of provisioning systems for Verizon’s FiOS deployment and VP of digital transformation for FiOS and Wireless.

Mudge and Maguire both left Verizon in 2017, while Creager departed in 2016 and Kumar exited in 2019, according to their LinkedIn profiles.

The assets Lumen sold to Apollo include its local fiber and copper network assets, broadband and voice customers served by those holdings, connectivity to tower sites and central offices in 20 states across the Midwest and Southeastern U.S.

Lumen kept its ILEC operations in 16 states in the western part of the country. Earlier this month, it laid out plans to upgrade 12 million locations to fiber within that footprint.