Iliad preps European datacentre expansion

  • Xavier Niel’s Iliad group is growing its international presence and service portfolio
  • It has already announced a significant expansion of its international edge cloud services
  • Now it’s pumping billions into its own datacentres and is seeking an investment partner

Xavier Niel’s Iliad empire is growing larger by the quarter as the telecom sector entrepreneur looks to take his combination of affordable and innovative services to more and more markets and his latest gambit is to pump billions into Iliad’s own European datacentre facilities. 

Iliad and Niel’s investment vehicle, Atlas Investissement, have been expanding into new territories and markets in recent years. For example, Iliad now holds a near 20% stake in Swedish operator Tele2 and Niel is lining up a $4.1bn bid to acquire Latin American operator Millicom.

Recently, Iliad’s enterprise-focused edge cloud services division, Scaleway, expanded its virtual private cloud server footprint from just three countries to 52 – see Iliad’s Scaleway cloud AI unit expands to 52 countries.

Iliad’s core revenue-generating markets, though, are still France, Poland and Italy (for now at least!) and the company recently reported an 11.2% year-on-year increase in first-quarter revenues to €2.43bn, with growth in each of the operator’s three main markets.

In its first-quarter presentation to investors, Iliad CEO Thomas Reynaud noted: “The first quarter of 2024 marked a very good start to the year for the Iliad Group. We delivered not only in terms of sales performance, by continuing to win market share, but also in terms of operating performance, by tightly controlling our costs. The group is radically changing scale, from a technological perspective thanks to our promising investments in the Freebox Ultra, the cloud, AI and new datacentres, and from a geographical perspective. Having become Tele2’s reference shareholder, we are now present in eight European countries. Forming part of Europe’s top-five telcos is within our reach, and as from this year!” 

Those datacentre investments, it turns out, will amount to €2.5bn over the next decade as the operator looks to build new facilities in partnership with “a future financial partner” (Iliad is in the process of seeking that partner). 

Iliad’s current datacentre portfolio, run by its OpCore unit, amounts to 15 datacentres, eight in France (of which six are in the Paris area) and seven in Poland. It claims to have more than 150 enterprise customers for the facilities in addition to Iliad’s own operations. 

The investments might not stop there, though, as the Iliad team is also on the lookout for “opportunistic” acquisitions that could boost the datacentre portfolio in a sector that the company believes is growing at a 20% annual rate. 

- Ray Le Maistre, Editorial Director, TelecomTV

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