Digital 9 Infrastructure (LON: DGI9), an externally managed closed-end investment trust focused on digital infrastructure, today announced that it has agreed to acquire Ficolo Oy, a data center operator providing colocation services in Finland, for an enterprise value of €135m ($145m USD). Specifically, Digital 9 Infrastructure is purchasing Ficolo from Taaleri, a Nordic investment and asset manager, which, in combination with its co-investors, owns a 47% stake in Ficolo via the entity Taaleri Datacenter Ky. Additionally, Digital 9 is buying Ficolo from Pontos Group (~40% ownership), a family office in Finland, as well as the company’s management team, which will reinvest in the business.
Based on the €135m enterprise value ascribed to Ficolo and its run-rate EBITDA of €6.1m, Digital 9 is valuing the business at a 22x EV/EBITDA multiple. Additionally, the Taaleri Datacenter Ky co-investment vehicle notes that it invested in Ficolo in 2018 and expects to generate co-investment returns on capital of ~2.4x for its investors.
Finally, the transaction is expected to close in late Q2 or Q3 2022.
Ficolo Oy – Overview
Ficolo Oy was founded in 2011 and operates three data centers in Finland, across the cities of Helsinki (The Air), Pori (The Rock), and Tampere (The Deck). Collectively, Ficolo’s data centers offer 23 megawatts of available power capacity, including 8 megawatts of fully and partially fitted IT capacity. The majority of this capacity is held by Ficolo’s Helsinki data center, known as The Air campus.
In addition, Ficolo has significant expansion potential at its existing sites of up to ~90 megawatts of power capacity. Below is further detail on Ficolo’s three data center campuses in Finland:
|Building 1 – The Air||Helsinki||20 MW||20 MW|
|Building 2 – The Air||Helsinki||—||20 MW|
|Building 3 – The Air||Helsinki||—||40 MW|
|The Rock||Pori||~5 MW||11 MW|
|The Deck||Tampere||1 MW||1+ MW|
These data center locations are near the airport in Helsinki (The Air), a former military underground tunnel in Pori (The Rock), and the city center in Tampere (The Deck).
Beyond colocation, Ficolo offers hybrid cloud services, which leverage a combination of different environments including on-premises, private cloud, and public cloud. More specifically, the company provides managed public cloud services through Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud.
Ficolo operates the main connectivity hub in Finland, known as Ficolo-IX Connectivity Hub, which is located in Helsinki. This facility is home to points-of-presence (PoPs) for key international carriers.
Ficolo-IX is connected to all Ficolo data centers through its own backbone and offers direct connectivity to Frankfurt and Stockholm. Further, Ficolo-IX connects Ficolo data centers to Megaport services.
Power and Renewable Energy
Based on the latest infrastructure design, deployed at The Air Helsinki, Ficolo is able to operate at a power usage effectiveness (PUE) of 1.14.
Ficolo’s data centers use 100% renewable energy and the company has received a climate-neutrality certification. Moreover, Ficolo’s future goal is to become carbon negative.
Additionally, Ficolo’s environmental initiatives include recycling and distributing surplus heat, generated by its data centers, to district heating networks. Finally, Ficolo constructed a 28k sqft (2.6k sqm) solar power plant in Pori, Finland, at its The Rock facility, in order to offset the data center’s electricity consumption related to cooling.
Ficolo provides colocation and connectivity services to both Finland-based and international customers. Particularly, the company serves a significant number of large IT and cybersecurity corporate clients.
Currently, Ficolo’s weighted average contract length is ~6.5 years.
Presently, Ficolo generates revenue of €12.9m and run-rate EBITDA of €6.1m. Since 2017, when Taaleri and Pontos first invested in Ficolo, the company has grown by an average of 30% annually – albeit in-part inorganically.
Under Taaleri and Pontos’ ownership, Ficolo acquired two data centers and invested more than €30m in its data centers. The investments were financed with both equity and via a €20m green bond.
Upon completion of the transaction, Taaleri estimates that it will record a total profit of ~€14m from the transaction and performance fees from the co-investment it manages.
Ficolo is led by Seppo Ihalainen as CEO and Co-Founder. Also, Ficolo notes that its executive management will continue with the company under Digital 9 Infrastructure’s ownership.
Taaleri and Pontos’ financial advisor was Torch Partners. Additionally, Pontos’ legal advisor was Hannes Snellman.
Data Center Strategy – Digital 9 Infrastructure
Digital 9 Infrastructure is pursuing a data center strategy which focuses on shifting the energy-intensive processing of growing data sets to the Nordics region. In turn, Digital 9 is delivering environmentally sustainable data centers in this geography, which has abundant access to renewable energy. Also, Digital 9 anticipates that it will benefit from the lower cost and less volatile power prices of the Nordics.
Overall, Digital 9 Infrastructure “expects material synergies through integrating Ficolo into its existing portfolio”. To this end, the most relevant Digital 9 portfolio company to Finland’s Ficolo is Verne Global, a data center operator in Iceland, which also sources 100% of its power from renewable energy. Finally, Ficolo states that its deal with Digital 9 will provide the company with “greater international connectivity”.
Digital 9 Infrastructure – Portfolio
Digital 9 Infrastructure’s acquisition of Ficolo in Finland marks the firm’s fourth investment in the data center sub-sector of digital infrastructure. To-date, Digital 9 has raised total equity of £845m ($1.1bn USD) and, beyond Ficolo, has made the following 6 investments:
- Aqua Comms: owns and operates 12.5k miles (20.2k kilometers) of trans-Atlantic and regional subsea cables
- EMIC-1: 6.2k mile (10k kilometer) subsea cable and terrestrial fiber system, known as Europe Middle-East India Connect 1, in-partnership with the 2Africa PEARLS system being developed by Facebook (Meta)
- Verne Global: data center operator in Iceland with a 24-megawatt campus near the town of Keflavik, which is scaling to 40 megawatts through a development project
- SeaEdge UK1: 10.6-megawatt data center and landing station located in Newcastle, England, which connects with the North Sea Connect and NO-UK subsea cables
- Host Ireland: enterprise broadband provider in Greater Dublin, which leverages fixed wireless access (FWA) technology, specifically, utilizing high-frequency E-Band spectrum
- Volta Data Centres: retail colocation provider focused on the enterprise data center segment, which operates a 6-megawatt facility in London, UK