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UBS-backed German fibre company preps EUR 200m fundraise

UBS Asset Management-controlled German fibre platform Northern Fiber Holding (NFH) is gearing up for the next phase of its expansion with a large equity raise in preparation, sources familiar said.

NFH is working with German advisory firm Herbst Hilgenfeldt Partners (HHP) on the equity process, which follows two large debt raises completed in 2023.

The sources said that NFH is looking to raise up to EUR 200m from the incoming co-investor, who will take a minority stake in the business, with the process due to launch after the Easter break.

UBS created NFH following the successive acquisitions in recent years of regional fibre optic companies Sewikom, Lünecom and Terralink, merging them under a common platform.

The company has a target of reaching up to 500,000 homes passed in the coming years as part of the country’s German Digital Strategy, a plan under which all households will have gigabit connectivity by 2030.

Just last year, NFH raised EUR 400m of debt. The first round of debt financing for the company reached financial close last April, when lenders NordLB, SEB, Kommunalkredit, Raiffeisen Bank International, KfW-IPEX Bank and Triodos Bank provided loans of EUR 240m.

A few months later, in December, the European Investment Bank also provided a EUR 175m loan to NFH for the expansion of its fibre optic network in northern Germany.

Although debt raises linked to European fibre companies slowed down towards the second half of 2023, the market is showing signs of heating up again in the first months of 2024.

Earlier this week, German lender Helaba provided EUR 40m of debt to support the expansion of regional fibre company Netzgesellschaft Braunschweiger Land.

In Portugal, Cube Infrastructure Managers is looking for an advisor to arrange a debt raise for its Portuguese fibre company dstelecom.

NFH did not respond to a request for comment. HHP declined to comment.