EQT, through its EQT Mid Market Europe private equity fund, today announced that it has agreed to sell 100% of Adamo Telecom Iberia, a fiber broadband provider in Spain, to Ardian Infrastructure, a French private equity firm. Previously, EQT acquired an ~80% stake in Adamo in 2017 from its management team and private investors.
Notably, press reports indicate that Adamo was sold by EQT to Ardian Infrastructure for an initial ~€900m ($1.04bn USD) with an earnout bringing the purchase price to €1.2bn ($1.4bn USD) based on Adamo achieving certain future financial targets. Indeed, this valuation aligns with a €600m debt refinancing that Adamo completed in July 2021 (i.e., assuming ~60% loan-to-value).
Finally, the transaction is expected to close in Q1 2022.
Adamo Telecom – Overview
Adamo is headquartered in Barcelona, Spain, and is a provider of open access rural fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) networks throughout the country. Presently, the company’s nationwide fiber network spans 6.2k route miles (10.0k route kilometers), with its footprint passing 1.8+ million homes. Through this fiber network, the company delivers fixed broadband and mobile services to 250k retail and wholesale subscribers.
Adamo offers fiber-based broadband which delivers speeds of up to 1 gigabit per second. The company’s strategy focuses on deploying its network in rural areas of Spain with low internet penetration. Oftentimes, these locations have i) no high-speed internet access and/or ii) no service from alternative broadband providers.
Adamo’s fiber network spans 14 autonomous communities across Spain. Specifically, these regions include Catalonia (includes Barcelona), Madrid, Valencia, Seville, Cantabria, Navarra, Castilla-La Mancha, Castilla y León, Extremadura, La Rioja, and Lugo.
Open Access Wholesale Fiber Network
Adamo’s fiber network is open to all third-party operators. To this end, Adamo has secured wholesale contracts to provide connectivity services through its fiber network, to four of Spain’s five national operators and 160+ local operators. For example, Adamo has a wholesale agreement in-place with MÁSMÓVIL, Spain’s fourth largest wireless carrier and fixed broadband provider.
Adamo Telecom – Growth Targets for Ardian, Post-EQT
Adamo has set a medium-term target of expanding its fiber optic network to reach more than 3.2 million homes in rural Spain. Indeed, this represents an incremental 1.4 million homes passed with fiber, from the company’s current passings of 1.8+ million homes. At the same time, Adamo will expand its backbone network to more than 6.8k route miles (11.0k route kilometers).
During the first 9 months of 2021, Adamo has expanded its fiber network by ~400k homes passed, implying an annual run-rate of ~530k passings with fiber. Therefore, assuming the same rate of fiber network growth, it will take the company ~2.6 years to reach its medium-term target of 3.2 million homes passed in rural Spain.
Under Ardian Infrastructure’s ownership, Adamo will grow its fiber network both through organic deployments and inorganic acquisitions of new fiber networks.
Adamo employs a partnership model to roll-out its fiber network. Specifically, this includes agreements with local partners, which allows Adamo to minimize execution risk and gain cost efficiencies. In each coverage area, Adam works with a local partner, which allows it to expand its fiber network faster.
Transaction Advisors – EQT (Adamo), Ardian Infrastructure
EQT’s financial advisors were UBS (lead) and ING, who ran the auction process to sell Adamo, ultimately to Ardian Infrastructure. Additionally, EQT’s legal advisor was Allen & Overy.
Ardian Infrastructure’s legal advisor was Clifford Chance.
Ardian Infrastructure – Digital Infrastructure
Ardian Infrastructure’s digital infrastructure investments to-date have been in Europe, within the tower and fiber sub-sectors. For example, Ardian Infrastructure owns a 30.2% controlling stake in INWIT, a tower company in Italy, and a 26% stake in EWE, an owner of fiber assets in Germany.
Notably, for Ardian Infrastructure, the purchase of Adamo from EQT marks its first investment in the telecommunications sector in Spain.