iCON Infrastructure Partners, a London-headquartered middle-market infrastructure private equity firm, has completed the acquisition of a controlling interest in three rural fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) providers in Germany, namely ropa GmbH, NGN Telecom, and Wisotel, which are collectively known as Strategic Fiber Networks Group (SFN Group). Specifically, the firm is investing out of its iCON Infrastructure Partners V fund, which has $1.9bn (€1.6bn) in capital commitments. Finally, iCON is acquiring SFN Group from LABcom Investment.
Strategic Fiber Networks Group (SFN Group) – Overview
SFN Group’s fiber and cable networks primarily serve ~16k residential customers through several brands including Echtschnell (ropa), DBN (NGN), and Wisotel. Geographically, the company focuses on Germany’s states of Baden-Württemberg (southwest) and Lower Saxony (northwest).
iCON Infrastructure’s investment into SFN Group will support the delivery of fiber connectivity into underserved rural areas of Germany. To this end, iCON will fund SFN Group’s expansion of its fiber network coverage through bolt-on acquisitions and further network build-out. For example, NGN Telecom has current expansion projects underway in Germany’s municipalities, villages, and regions of Bardowick, Gellersen, and Wendland-Elbe.
iCON Infrastructure – Fiber Investments
Beyond SFN Group, iCON Infrastructure Partners has made investments in the following companies within the fiber sub-sector of digital infrastructure:
- TruVista: acquired by iCON in October 2019. TruVista is a provider of broadband internet, video, and voice services to customers in South Carolina, United States
- BornFiber: 85% stake acquired by iCON in January 2021. BornFiber is a fiber and fixed wireless network owner and operator based in Bornholm, Denmark
Germany’s Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) Market Expansion
Over the past three months, institutional investors including UBS Asset Management (UBS-AM), Basalt Infrastructure, and InfraVia Capital have made commitments to Germany’s fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) market. Particularly, these investments include:
- Lünecom: fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) provider in rural Northern Germany into which UBS Asset Management made a €160m commitment
- goetel Group: fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) provider in rural Germany with 14k+ customers overall, into which Basalt Infrastructure made a commitment
- Liberty Networks Germany: 50%/50% joint venture to build fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) networks in Germany between Liberty Global and InfraVia Capital