Digital Colony hires ex-PSP director as fundraising nears final close

Steven Sonnenstein, who resigned from the Canadian pension in March, becomes managing director as the firm’s inaugural $3bn fund nears target.

Digital Colony has hired former PSP Investments senior director Steven Sonnenstein to help invest in telecommunications infrastructure opportunities as the firm raises an inaugural $3 billion fund.

Sonnenstein began work at Digital Colony as managing director on Tuesday after resigning from the C$132 billion ($102.6 billion; €87.1 billion) Canadian pension in March. After six years at PSP, and more than 20 years investing in infrastructure overall, he joins a new firm created last year to focus on the high-growth digital communications market.

Established as a partnership between telecoms infrastructure company Digital Bridge and real estate fund manager Colony NorthStar, Digital Colony has been raising a $3 billion fund that is expected to hold a final close over the summer, Infrastructure Investor reported in April. The firm announced its first deal last month, acquiring a Finland-based television and radio broadcast tower operator, Digita Oy, from First State Investments.

Sonnenstein told Infrastructure Investor the opportunity to work at Digital Colony appealed to him after developing an interest in the telecoms sector through several deals he completed at PSP.

“This is a tremendous opportunity that will allow me to further grow with like-minded partners who are very focused and dedicated to a sub-set of infrastructure I’ve been working on for the last five years,” he explained.

One telecoms deal at PSP Sonnenstein said he helped complete was in 2014 when the pension was part of a Brookfield-led consortium that acquired a 50 percent stake in French telecoms tower business TDF for €1.78 billion. He also said he was involved in the deal to acquire Vantage Data Centers last year, along with Digital Bridge and TIAA Investments.

“We’ve known Steven for a long time, and we know he has experience in the sector. And most importantly, we were really comfortable in the situations we had worked with him in the past,” explained Marc Ganzi, managing partner of Digital Colony.

After Digital Colony’s fund closes, the firm will invest in mobile and internet infrastructure to take advantage of increased access to 5G networks. The fund is likely to make another two to four investments this year.