Grain Management, a private equity firm focused on digital infrastructure, today announced that it has acquired Conexão Group, a Brazilian alternative high-speed internet service provider (ISP) operating in the Northeast and Southeast regions of Brazil, from ACON Investments, a private equity firm. Specifically, Conexão Group is being sold by the ACON Latin America Opportunities Fund IV, L.P.
Although the value of Grain Management’s acquisition has not been disclosed, at the time of Conexão Group’s prior launch of an attempted initial public offering (IPO), the group would have been valued between ~$400m to ~$600m U.S. dollars (R$2.0bn to R$3.0bn).
Conexão Group – Overview
Conexão Group provides broadband services using primarily fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) technology, as well as some hybrid fiber-coaxial (HFC) infrastructure. The company has 450k+ residential subscribers and 20k+ business customers throughout six states and 100+ municipalities in Brazil. Specifically, these states are located in the Northeast (Rio Grande do Norte, Paraíba, Ceará, and Bahia) and Southeast (São Paulo and Minas Gerais).
Overall, Conexão Group’s network passes over 1.4 million households, which implies a 32% penetration rate. Notably, the company owns the entirety of its digital infrastructure, being ~8.4k fiber route miles (13.5k fiber route kilometers).
Conexão Group operates under multiple brands including, CABO, Multiplay, Conexão, Outcenter, and StarWeb. Through these identities, the company provides broadband connectivity, subscription TV, telephone services, and IT corporate services.
Conexão Group’s current operations are the result of 11 internet service provider (ISP) acquisitions in Brazil, under ACON Investments’ ownership. Specifically, Conexão’s prior acquisitions included Outcenter, Cabo Telecom, Conexão Telecom, Direta, Mega Sistemas, Cortez Online, Multiplay Telecom, Ideia Telecom, and StarWeb.
In Brazil, there are currently five significant consolidators of the internet service provider (ISP) market, with Conexão Group being one. Indeed, the other four consolidators in Brazil are EB Capital, Vero (Vinci Partners), America Net (Warburg Pincus), and IHS (Wendel Group).
Over the next two years, Conexão Group expects that certain of these consolidators will merge with each other in order to gain further scale.
Growth Strategy – Grain Management and Conexão Group
Under Grain Management’s ownership, Conexão Group will expand beyond the regions in Brazil where it currently operates. Indeed, this growth will take the form of both organic and inorganic (i.e., M&A) expansion.
Brazil’s scarcity of fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) offerings for consumers gives Conexão Group a differentiated offering in order to grow its market share. At the same time, Brazil offers Grain Management an ability to roll-up additional internet service providers (ISPs), via Conexão, in this highly-fragmented market.
Overall, Brazil’s strong increase in broadband demand coupled with improving macroeconomic trends supports Grain Management’s investment thesis.
Transaction Advisors – Grain Management, Conexão, ACON
Grain Management’s financial advisor was BTG Pactual. Additionally, Grain Management’s legal advisors were Mattos Filho and Alston & Bird.
Conexão Group and ACON Investments’ financial advisor was Lazard. Additionally, Conexão Group and ACON Investments’ legal advisors were Stocche Forbes and Hogan Lovells.
Grain Management – Overview
Grain Management is a Washington, D.C.-headquartered private equity firm, focused on digital infrastructure investments. Overall, Grain Management is a significant investor in digital infrastructure, having purchased fiber companies Tachus, Summit Broadband and Ritter Communications. Additionally, in April 2021, the company sold fiber provider WANRack to CBRE Caledon Capital Management.