French consortium closes €900m broadband debt package

The group, including Quaero Capital and the Marguerite Fund, has secured finance from eight lenders, including from reinsurer Scor and La Banque Postale.

A five-strong consortium in France has sealed €900 million of debt to build the largest fibre-optic broadband network in the country.

The Losange concession company will build a network designed to serve nearly one million homes and businesses by 2022 in France’s Grand Est region. Losange is 33 percent owned by Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations and is supported by Quaero Capital (25 percent), and the Marguerite Fund (22 percent). The remainder of the consortium is held by construction firm NGE (10 percent) and Altitude Infrastructure (10 percent).

Part of Quaero Capital’s investment is funded through its €250 million European Infrastructure Fund, while another portion is structured through a co-investment with the European Investment Bank.

The debt package was provided by Paris-based reinsurer Scor, La Banque Postale, Société Générale, BNP Paribas, Arkea, Crédit Industriel et Commercial, the Caisse d'Epargne, Prévoyance d'Alsace and an unnamed French institutional investor. This finance will also be supplemented by €222 million of government funding, with the project’s total cost expected to reach €1.3 billion once completed in 2022.

Losange was awarded the 35-year concession last month and its remit in Grand Est will cover about 10 percent of France’s broadband investment plan. It is expected the strategy will see about €20 billion of public and private investment over the next five years to implement the plan.

A report released this week by the UK-based advisory service ranked France 37th in the world for its broadband speed, below 24 of its European counterparts.