Aviva lends €50m to Arcus’ Shere Group

The UK insurer will help the telecoms tower and wireless company refinance debt alongside Rabobank.

Aviva Investors, the asset management arm of UK insurer Aviva, will invest €50 million in the refinancing of Shere Group.

Counting more than 950 wireless sites across the UK and the Netherlands, Shere bills itself as one the largest independent owners of telecoms towers in both countries. It also has exclusive access to more than 4,150 extra unbuilt sites on land belonging to UK water groups United Utilities and Thames Water, according to its website.

The company is controlled by London-based Arcus Infrastructure Partners, through the manager’s €2.2 billion Fund I, which owns Shere in its entirety bar a small stake held by the management team.

Shere was founded in 2004 through a joint venture between Babcock & Brown and four former managers of telecoms group Ultramast. The company ended up buying Ultramast – itself a joint venture formed in 2000 by Marconi and Railtrack – from London-listed railway services provider Jarvis at the end of that year.

The asset transferred to Arcus after the firm was founded through the management buyout of Babcock’s European infrastructure fund, which followed the Australian fund manager’s demise in 2009.

“This investment provides further diversification to our European infrastructure debt platform, through which we have invested in 12 different sectors, including utilities and transport, and across nine different countries,” said Florent del Picchia, an investment director at Aviva Investors.

Other assets recently backed by Aviva’s infrastructure debt team include Milan Metro, the new Dumfries and Galloway hospital in Scotland and the Italian solar platform of European infrastructure fund manager Antin Infrastructure Partners.