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Telenor flogs $330 million worth of fibre assets

Telenor has inked a deal to sell off a raft of fibre infrastructure assets in Sweden to GlobalConnect.

Under the terms of the 3 billion kronor (US$330 million) deal, Telenor Sweden will hand over control of fibre wholesale business Open Universe, which connects 200,000 homes with fibre, and a further 14,000 premises it has hooked up directly.

We are by now used to telecoms operators monetising their fibre assets by selling to or partnering with investment firms, but this deal is slightly different. GlobalConnect describes itself as a digital infrastructure and data communication provider; essentially, it provides services across its own fibre infrastructure and via data centre space in Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Germany and Finland. GlobalConnect is buying itself some scale.

The firm says it will retain the Open Universe name and business model, which sees it provide fibre connectivity to retailers including Telenor Sweden; Open Universe has been part of the Telenor group for the past decade, incidentally. It says it will continue to collaborate with municipalities, property owners and city networks, and will drive the availability of fibre broadband to Swedish households.

GlobalConnect will wrap Telenor Sweden’s direct fibre network, which connects single-dwelling units, or SDUs, into its own FTTH operations in the country, and will embark on a programme of expansion and densification.

Further, GlobalConnect has indicated that buying Telenor’s Swedish fibre assets might not be the end of its inorganic growth plans, noting that acquisitions form part of its business strategy to boost its presence in its Northern Europe operating area.

“We see market consolidation as a natural development in our industry, which will ultimately accelerate digitization and social inclusion across society. We will therefore continue to explore possible acquisitions across all our markets, given that they fit our business model and can contribute to an even stronger offering to our customers,” said Martin Lippert, CEO GlobalConnect Group.

“Acquiring Open Universe and valuable fibre assets from Telenor Sweden fits perfectly into our strategy,” he said.

Given that telecoms operator strategies for fibre seem to revolve around selling as much as building at present, there may well be no shortage of available assets for when GlobalConnect is ready to make its next move. It seems like it will be a matter of ‘when’ rather than ‘if’ we hear from this company again.

In the meantime, it and Telenor will work towards closing this deal. Subject to regulatory approvals and the like, they expect it to be finalised in the first quarter of next year.

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