QIC in take-private discussions with fibre network operator Superloop

The Brisbane-based fund manager has made an offer that values Superloop at approx. A$493m as it continues to make investments through its Global Infrastructure Fund.

Australian fund manager QIC has made an offer to acquire ASX-listed telecommunications and broadband specialist Superloop.

Superloop confirmed that QIC had made an unsolicited, non-binding indicative offer of A$1.90 ($1.32; €1.18) per share on 2 April, upping the offer to A$1.95 on 26 April.

The revised offer values Superloop at around A$493 million. Its shares closed at A$1.89 on 6 May.

Superloop owns and operates more than 670 km of metropolitan fibre networks in Australia, Singapore and Hong Kong, which connect data centres with commercial properties. It also operates fixed wireless networks in Australia.

The listed firm said that the second revised take-private proposal included two options for shareholders: full cash, or partial cash and partial scrip in a new unlisted entity.

In a statement, QIC confirmed that it was in “active and exclusive” discussions with Superloop on behalf of its QIC Global Infrastructure Fund (QGIF) and its managed clients.

Superloop’s board granted QIC a period of approximately three weeks, commencing on 28 April, to conduct due diligence on an exclusive basis. It said there was “no certainty” discussions would result in a deal.

QIC added: “In originating and executing opportunities for QIC Global Infrastructure’s investors, we consider factors such as the asset’s fit with our key investment themes in essential infrastructure sectors, and as part of our strategy of constructing portfolios of assets diversified by sector, geography and lifecycle.

“Superloop is one of a number of potential opportunities for our clients to invest in customer-led growth opportunities in target thematics.”

The deal would represent the sixth asset that QGIF has invested in, following the purchase of a stake in Brussels Airport in March and a campus parking deal with Northeastern University in the US.

Superloop made a net profit after tax of A$7.1 million as of 30 June, 2018, according to its latest full year results, and reported EBITDA of A$29.1 million.

Digital infrastructure assets are increasingly commonplace in infrastructure portfolios, with managers and investors reporting increased competition for the asset class. Martin Lennon, co-founder and head of Infracapital, recently told Infrastructure Investor that his firm views fibre broadband as a “new utility”.