EQT doubles Dutch telecoms footprint with CAIW buy

More than 70 percent of the deals made by the firm’s $4bn fund III have now been invested in the telecoms and broadband sector.

EQT’s third infrastructure fund has consolidated its presence in the Dutch telecoms sector with the acquisition of CAIW.

The $4 billion EQT Infrastructure III fund has bought the telecom infrastructure company from Rabo Bouwfonds Communication Infrastructure Fund. CIF is a €750 million vehicle approaching the end of its lifespan after its close in 2010. Last month, the fund also sold its shares in site operator Open Towers Company to APG. The parties declined to disclose the size of the deal.

CAIW owns and operates broadband connections to more than 350,000 homes and businesses in the Netherlands and offers TV and telephony services. The firm generated €112 million of revenue last year.

It was bought by CIF in 2008 and in 2011 the fund agreed a deal to sell CAIW to Dutch telecoms group KPN. However, the move was cancelled the following year following concerns from the Dutch Authority for Consumers & Markets.

Legislation is still making its way through the Dutch parliament that proposes authorising the Dutch government to block deals in the telecoms sector by foreign companies it deems a threat to national security or public policy.

Despite this, the acquisition “fortifies EQT Infrastructure’s commitment to the Dutch fibre segment”, according to Matthias Fackler, partner at EQT. He revealed that EQT plans to include CAIW in the same holding as Delta Comfort, another Dutch telecoms provider and the fund’s first acquisition when it agreed a €488 million deal in December last year. The unit will be led by Marco Visser, the current chief executive of Delta.

While the deal for CAIW is the fund’s second fibre and telecoms deal in the Netherlands, it has become the vehicle’s fifth transaction in the sector, out of the seven investments made. It most recently bought South Carolina-based firm Spirit Communications and in February agreed a $950 million deal for Lumos Networks, also in the US. These were added to its acquisition of Denmark’s GlobalConnect last year.

As in 2011, the CAIW acquisition remains subject to approval from the ACM but ETQ said it expects to close the deal in this quarter.