Ambitious EQT takes another run at KPN: Report

  • Swedish private equity firm EQT has again been linked to a bid for KPN
  • This time it has reportedly teamed up for a joint bid
  • EQT is already a significant investor in European digital infrastructure
  • EQT portfolio already includes FTTH, data centre and long-distance network operators 

Following a landmark year of European digital infrastructure investments, including mergers, acquisitions and joint ventures related to fibre access rollouts, long-distance networks and data centre facilities, Swedish private equity firm EQT seems intent on expanding its empire further with another run at Dutch national operator KPN.

According to a Wall Street Journal report, EQT has teamed up with New York-based Stonepeak Infrastructure Partners to put together a takeover bid of at least €3.00 per share, worth more than €12.5 billion ($14.83 billion), for KPN. 

EQT reportedly approached KPN last November about a potential takeover bid worth $13 billion, so it’s clearly very keen on the Dutch operator, which, of course, is very active in developing fibre access infrastructure: It recently stated its intention to pass half of the households in the 25 largest Dutch cities with its fibre access network by the end of this year, and also announced in late March a joint venture with pension fund ABP to take fibre connectivity to almost 1,000 Dutch villages.

KPN has declined to comment on the speculation. The report has edged KPN’s stock up by more than 2.2% to €2.95 in Thursday morning trading.

If EQT is successful in taking control of KPN, it would add to an already impressive set of European networking, IT and digital platform assets, including alternative Dutch broadband network operator DELTA Fiber.  

In November 2020, it formed a fixed access network joint venture called Fiberklaar with Belgian national operator Proximus to take fibre broadband to 1.5 million homes and small businesses in the Flanders region of Belgium. (DELTA Fiber is the ‘vehicle’ for that particular venture.) 

In the same month it completed the acquisition of EdgeConneX, which operates more than 40 data centres in 33 markets. 

In March 2020, in partnership with Digital Colony, it completed the $14.3 billion acquisition of Zayo, which operates 133,000 miles of networks in North America and Western Europe and runs 44 carrier-neutral data centres. 

In February 2020, EQT Infrastructure teamed up with OMERS to acquire open access network operator Deutsche Glasfaser and combine it with inexio to form a company that plans to invest more than €7 billion in fibre networks for Germany’s less well served and rural areas. 

In addition, EQT owns GlobalConnect, which operates data centres and long-distance networks that run between Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland and Northern Germany to provide wholesale and enterprise services in Northern Europe: It also offers consumer broadband services in Sweden and Norway. 

Melita, the main fixed and mobile service provider in Malta, is also part of the EQT portfolio. 

The private equity giant also owns SUSE, the developer of open source software-defined infrastructure and application delivery solutions, and Swiss SD-WAN specialist Open Systems.

- Ray Le Maistre, Editorial Director, TelecomTV

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