Pension fund buys €440m stake in KPN open-access rural fibre
KPN has attracted the biggest pension fund in the Netherlands to take a 50% stake in its open-access rural fibre business at a cost of €440 million.
ABP, with 2.8 million participants — mainly in government and education — and assets under management of €344 billion, will help to fund the installation of fibre in nearly 1,000 Netherlands villages, said KPN, with an investment of more than €1 billion.
This is in addition to KPN’s existing plan, prices at €3.5 billion, to connect 2.5 million households in larger towns and cities with fibre optics in the next five years. The two moves will help the Netherlands provide fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) to 80% of all households by 2026.
KPN CEO Joost Farwerck said: “More than 200,000 connections to business parks will be added to this. Otherwise, these areas would not be connected until after 2025.” The joint venture will connect a total of 910,000 premises, including homes as well of businesses.
KPN and ABP said that the new network — which is so far unnamed — will be open-access. “Both KPN and other providers of telecom services can use this open network to provide their services to customers,” said the investors.
“In the coming years, this company will invest more than €1 billion in this rollout and further digitisation in the Netherlands. The joint venture is expected to commence in the second quarter, following regulatory approval.”
According to Reuters this morning, KPN shares were down 3.7% to €2.80 on the news, because the move makes it less likely that KPN could be bought by a rival company.
The terms of the joint venture say that ABP’s pension subsidiary, APG, can acquire one extra share in addition to its 50% share in the rural venture, giving it management control.
Menno Snel, board member of ABP, said: “This collaboration provides our fund with an attractive return and thus contributes to a good pension for our participants. ABP likes to invest in the Netherlands to stimulate economic growth, employment and sustainable projects.”
The fibre connections built by KPN and ABP will replace the copper network, said the investors this morning.
“By the end of 2026, about 80% of all households in the Netherlands will have fibre via KPN or via the partnership announced today,” said KPN.
Snel said: “Through this collaboration with KPN, we create more than 1,000 jobs with the construction of more than 900,000 fibre optic connections. In addition to a faster connection, glass fibre is also much more energy-efficient than copper or cable.”
Farwerck sid: “The demand for fibre optic from consumers and companies continues to grow. Everyone wants the internet that can handle ever-increasing amounts of data at high speed.”
He added: “In addition to the 2.5 million connections that we are installing ourselves, this is an enormous operation. But in this way the whole of the Netherlands can reap the benefits of super-fast, reliable and sustainable internet. Because the solution to major social challenges such as mobility, sustainability and employment is highly dependent on the investments we now make in our digital infrastructure.”