Antin swoops in for sought-after Idex

The French firm is believed to have fended off competition from the likes of Ardian, IFM and Partners Group, in a deal worth between €1bn and 1.5bn.

Antin Infrastructure Partners has agreed to buy French energy infrastructure and services company Idex from Cube Infrastructure, eight years after the Luxembourg-based firm’s first investment.

The deal is believed to be worth between €1 billion and €1.5 billion, although one source told Infrastructure Investor this is likely closer to the mid-way point.

The French fund manager has entered into exclusive negotiations with Cube, which bought Idex from private equity group IK Investment Partners in December 2010 via its €1 billion maiden infrastructure fund.

Idex’s portfolio comprises 41 district heating and cooling networks, 13 energy-from-waste facilities and a variety of energy services contracts. After the ENGIE-owned Cofely (45 percent) and the EDF-owned Dalkia (35 percent), Idex has the third largest share of the French district heating market with 8 percent, with the market set to double in volume by 2030. However, it is understood that Antin plans to grow Idex outside its base in France, with investments in the UK, Benelux and Germany under consideration.

The acquisition – including debt – is thought to represent at least a 15 times EBITDA multiple on Idex’s expected 2018 EBITDA of about €80 million. Recent investments in the sector over the past couple of years have ranged from 14.1 times to 19.9 times, Infrastructure Investor understands.

Cube’s auction process for Idex is believed to have attracted a host of suitors in the sector before being narrowed down in recent weeks. Ardian, Partners Group, JPMorgan, Mirova and IFM are all thought to have considered bids for the firm, while ENGIE and French private equity group PAI Partners had planned to bid for the services business only.

Antin’s emergence as the winner of the process represents the fourth investment since February the firm is making through its Antin Infrastructure Partners III fund, having previously agreed three deals in the fibre sector comprising FirstLight in the US, CityFibre in the UK and Ufinet in Spain. The €3.6 billion fund, which also contains transactions in education centres for children and young adults with autism and a hospital network in France, is more than 50 percent invested.