French fibre business stake up for sale

24 June 2019 - 12:00 am UTC

Summit Partners is exploring options including a sale of its minority stake in the French fibre business Sipartech, a process likely to attract infrastructure funds, sources following the process said.

The US investment fund has appointed Lazard to advise on the process, the sources said. Sipartech operates nearly 3,000km of fibre networks that connect businesses to data centres and other commercial buildings in several French cities.

Summit invested in Sipartech in 2016, buying out French telecoms investor Xavier Niel’s NJJ Capital and investment fund Ciclad Gestion in 2016. The size of the Summit’s stake and the price paid were not disclosed, but NJJ Capital invested EUR 1.5m in the company in 2010 and the company raised EUR 10m from NJJ and Ciclad in 2012.

The company has grown strongly since then, with the length of its fibre network more than tripling since 2014, having been extended beyond Paris to cities including Marseille, Lille, Lyon and Nantes. In 2017 the company announced it will deploy an optical network across Europe. 

Sipartech was founded in 2008 by its current chief executive Julien Santina, who is also a shareholder.

Summit did not respond to a request for comment. Lazard declined to comment. Sipartech and Santina could not immediately be reached for comment. 

Sipartech has worked with customers including the telecoms towers company TDF and the online streaming service Deezer. Outside France, its European network covers parts of Germany, Italy, Spain, the UK, the Netherlands, Belgium and Ireland. According to its website it has more than 80 employees and 500 customers. 

Data centres it provides connections to include those owned by sector giants Equinix and Interxion and the French telecoms company SFR.

The potential sale of Sipartech comes as infrastructure investors increasingly target fibre businesses, including business-to-business operators such as Sipartech and fibre-to-the-home operators. Recent transactions in France include Canada’s OMERS recently agreeing to buy a 49.99% stake in Altice’s fibre business for EUR 1.8bn and Mirova announcing the acquisition of a 49% stake in telecoms infrastructure firm Axione from Bouygues in January.

Infrastructure investors targeting fibre operators that are like Sipartech focused on businesses rather than consumers include InfraVia, which earlier this year bought a 75% stake in CELESTE, a provider of connectivity services to French enterprises and local authorities.


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