First State to buy Finnish towers firm

The European infrastructure fund of Australian manager First State Investments is set to complete its first deal in Finland with the acquisition of Digita from France’s TDF Group.

First State European Diversified Infrastructure Fund, a Europe-focused infrastructure fund managed by Australia’s First State Investments, has agreed to acquire Digita, a Finnish provider of broadcast tower infrastructure, from TDF Group, the French telecom firm.

The purchase price for the deal – which represents the first deal completed by the First State fund in Finland – is undisclosed.

Digita transmits radio and television programmes throughout Finland and has 36 main broadcasting stations, 152 sub-stations and dozens of transmission link stations. Its network management centre in the Finnish capital of Helsinki monitors the operation of the network.

In a statement, Oliver Huart, chief executive of TDF Group, said the divestment was in line with TDF’s strategy of focusing on the French and German markets – its two largest markets – and developing its media services business unit.

Sirpa Ojala, chief executive of Digita, said the new partnership with First State “will enable further investment in the network”.

The statement said the transaction is subject to approvals from the Finnish Ministry of Employment and Economy and the Finnish Council of State.

Sydney-based First State Investments opened a UK office in 2005 and, through its European Diversified Infrastructure Fund, has since invested in the likes of: Electricity North West, a regulated UK electricity distribution network; Anglian Water Group, a regulated UK water and wastewater business; and Reganosa, a regulated Spanish liquefied natural gas regasification plant and gas transmission network.

In January this year, it was announced that the European Diversified Infrastructure Fund had raised €673 million, adding more than €300 million as it moved from second to third close. The fund, which has been in the market since 2007, has a final target of €1.5 billion.

Having started out as an open-ended vehicle – with no defined term and with the capacity to add investors throughout its life – the fund was changed to a hybrid structure early in 2011. The structure is based on a 15-year life, with investors given the opportunity to extend the life in five-year blocks.