3i Infra to buy smart meter business for EUR 310m

13 March 2019 - 12:00 am UTC

3i Infrastructure has agreed to acquire a Dutch smart metering business for an enterprise value of EUR 310.4m, highlighting the continued attraction of the sector for European infrastructure funds. 

FSTE 250-listed 3i Infrastructure is to pay EUR 220m for 100% of shares in Rotterdam-headquartered Joulz Deinsten, which has two businesses units which focus on infrastructure services and metering. 

One of these units, Joulz Meetbedrijf, operates and reads around 50,000 electricity and gas meters for businesses under five to ten year long contracts.

The other, Joulz Infradiensten, designs, installs, leases and maintains medium voltage transformers, switches and cables under contracts which are typically over 15 years long. 

The deal was not priced on the basis of EBITDA multiple as the company was created late last year and has yet to release its annual EBITDA figure.

The buyer is also believed to have lined up EUR 90m of debt from a group of lenders to support the acquisition from infrastructure and energy network operator Stedin Group. The provisional agreement was signed by Stedin Group and 3i Infrastructure yesterday [13 March].

Infrastructure funds have shown their appetite for the European sector, as the roll-out of smart meters across the EU intensifies. 

InfraVia European Infrastructure Fund III is planning to sell its French smart metering business Ocea Smart Building, as reported, in a deal which is expected to attract fellow infrastructure funds. 

In December, French fund Mirova acquired the Paris-based heating and metering business Proxiserve for EUR 500-600m, or 11-13 times the company’s 2017 EUR 45m EBITDA, from asset manager Latour Capital.

Stedin Group became a standalone company in January 2018 when its owner Eneco Holding, the Dutch natural gas and electricity supplier and producer, spun out Stedin Group and Eneco’s energy production and supply arm Eneco Group in accordance with Dutch law. 

In September Stedin Group sold part of the Joulz business, Joulz Energy Solutions, which carries out the maintenance of high voltage energy grids for public and private owners, to VolkerWessels in an all-equity deal.

Stedin Group is owned by 53 Dutch municipalities, including the Rotterdam (31.69%) and The Hague (16.55%) municipalities. 

3i Infrastructure and Stedin are due to agree the deal at a meeting in the next few weeks, while the Dutch government will take at least six weeks to approve the transaction. 

Amsterdam-based financial adviser Emendo Capital, Alvarez and Marshal, Dutch law firm Stek and EY are advising the seller. 

ABN Amro, Loyens & Loeff, Latham Watkins and PwC are advising the buyer, while Allen & Overy is the lenders’ counsel.


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