Antin continues fibre surge with Ufinet Spain deal

In the sixth deal from its third fund, the manager buys the Spanish business from Cinven, which rolls the remaining international business into its sixth vehicle.

European fund manager Antin Infrastructure Partners has agreed its third fibre network deal in as many months following a move to buy Ufinet Spain from private equity group Cinven.

The two parties declined to disclose the transaction value. Cinven, however, which paid €510 million in June 2014 for Ufinet, carved out from Spanish utility Gas Natural Fenosa, said the sale generated a capital gain exceeding €1.1 billion.

While Ufinet’s presence has since expanded to Colombia, Argentina, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Panama and Paraguay, Antin’s deal through its €3.6 billion Antin Infrastructure Partners III fund is only for the Spanish business, while the international side of Ufinet has been bought by Cinven’s sixth fund. Cinven initially invested in the company through its fifth fund. Spain accounts for about 18,000 kilometres of Ufinet Group’s 66,800 kilometres portfolio and is split across dark fibre, lit fibre and fibre-to-the-home.

The internationalisation of Ufinet means more than two-thirds of revenues are generated abroad, compared with less than half at the time of Cinven’s acquisition. Ufinet overall has grown its EBTDA by an annualised rate of 25 percent over the past three years and said it invested €170 million in network expansion in Spain.

Despite an opportunistic deal to buy FirstLight Fiber in the US in February, Antin largely invests in Europe, with room for manoeuvre in other OECD countries. The move for Ufinet is Antin’s third in the sector for its third fund, after it also agreed a £538 million ($731.5 million; €609.8 million) deal alongside Goldman Sachs’ West Street Infrastructure Partners fund last month for UK-based group CityFibre. However, the Spanish and UK fibre markets are at markedly different ends of the spectrum, with Spain’s 33.9 percent fibre-to-the-home and fibre-to-the-building connection rates one of the best in Europe, while the UK registers below 1 percent.

The fund has also invested in UK-based companies Kisimul and Hesley, both of which provide education and specialist support to children and young adults with autism, as well as a 30-strong hospital network in France. It is now believed to be about 50 percent invested.