FRANKFURT/LONDON (Reuters) - European investment fund Antin Infrastructure Partners has hired UBS UBSG.S to launch the sale of a minority stake in its Dutch fibre-optic network operator Eurofiber, sources close to the matter told Reuters.
The deal could value Eurofiber, which runs a 25,000 km fibre-optic network across the Netherlands and Belgium, at about 2 billion euros ($2.36 billion), the sources added.
Cash-rich investors seeking stable returns have turned to telecoms infrastructure assets this year as the industry has proven resilient during the coronavirus pandemic.
Antin, which bought Eurofiber in 2015 for 875 million euros, is on the lookout for minority investors in the business, based in Maarssen near Utrecht, and has sent out confidential information packages to prospective bidders, the sources said.
Antin and UBS were not immediately available for comment.
Eurofiber may be valued at about 20 times its 2019 core earnings of 109 million euros, the sources said, adding that heavyweight investors including Allianz, Ardian, Macquarie and First State Investments are expected to enter the race along with Dutch pension funds APG and PGGM.
One of the sources said that in the event of bumper bids, Antin could increase the size of the stake on offer to a majority one.
Operators rolling out 5G networks require mobile masts to be connected by fibre-optic cables which enable rapid downloads and shorten reaction times so that, for example, self-driving cars can navigate city streets safely.
Infrastructure investors recently submitted indicative bids for a stake in Swiss Open Fiber - a joint venture between Sunrise Communications SRCG.S and Salt - which was being sold by Morgan Stanley, the sources said.
But Liberty Global’s $7.4 billion swoop on Sunrise meant that process had to be put on ice.
Separately, private equity firm DBAG DBANn.DE has hired Rothschild to prepare an auction process for its stake in fibre-optic firm DNS:Net Internet Service - a transaction valued at several hundred million euros, sources familiar with that deal said.
DBAG was not immediately available for comment.
More telecoms deals are currently in the works, with Spain's Cellnex CLNX.MC planning to raise up to 4 billion euros in new share capital to further expand its infrastructure portfolio.
Reporting by Arno Schuetze in Frankfurt and Pamela Barbaglia in London; additional reporting by Toby Sterling, John Revill and Maya Nikolaeva; Editing by Kirsten Donovan
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