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Exclusive: the conference date that led to $14bn Zayo takeover deal

Jan Veseley with Marc Ganzi.jpg

The $14.3 billion deal to buy Zayo, completed this month, began with a meeting five years ago at one of Capacity’s conferences.

This 21st century dating story meant that Marc Ganzi, CEO Digital Colony, and Jan Vesely, partner at EQT Infrastructure, this month led their respective private equity investment companies to a 50-50 acquisition of Zayo.

“We met the partners at EQT about five years ago at the Metro Connect conference in Florida. And so Jan and I became friends and we continued to compare notes as friends do,” Ganzi (pictured right) told Capacity in an interview that will be published in the April/May issue.

He added: “We found a great partner in EQT. We view the world in the same way from an industrial perspective. … EQT was seminal to the transaction.”

But it took a couple of years after that first Metro Connect meeting for the two organisations to agree to a joint bid for Zayo.

“When I made the move in March [2019] to really chase [Zayo] with a serious degree of vigour, it turned out EQT had the same idea at the same time,” Ganzi told Capacity this month. Both organisations were talking about a bid for Zayo at the same time.

“Mutual bankers connected Jan and myself, and we already knew each other, which was great. We surmised that both of us were looking at the opportunity.”

Vesely (pictured left) and Ganzi met. “We got to partnership terms in about 24 hours,” he told Capacity. The joint bid was announced in May 2019.

In February 2020 Ganzi, Vesely and Zayo CEO Dan Caruso were all back in Florida speaking at this year’s Metro Connect, and days later they were raising the final funds to complete the acquisition of Zayo.

“We were literally on the road for two weeks,” Ganzi told Capacity. “And it went incredibly well – we were just so pleased with the result. We were multiples of capital oversubscribed for the deal. Timing in life is everything.”

He said the money raised in that process means “we can reinvest in our people, [and] we can reinvest in our local communities, building new networks”.

Both Digital Colony and EQT are expected shortly to announce the directors they each plan to appoint to Zayo’s board.

 

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