AustralianSuper’s significant minority stake marks first hyperscale data centre investment as it expands its EMEA operations
Australia’s largest pension fund has acquired a significant minority stake in Vantage Data Centers EMEA for €1.5bn from global infrastructure firm DigitalBridge.
The company, which its CEO described as being “too big for Australia” has set its sights on becoming a major global infrastructure investor. Around half of AustralianSuper’s c.£155bn in member assets are currently invested outside Australia, with more than £20bn in the UK and Europe. The fund is forecast to grow to more than £250bn over the next five years and will deploy almost 70% of its growing inflows into global markets.
As a result, roughly two-thirds of the fund’s new inflows are managed offshore, and the majority of its assets are already managed outside Australia. Last year AustralianSuper announced it would double the size of its office in London up to 150-200 staff as it seeks infrastructure investments in EMEA.
In July, the fund announced six senior executive hires with new head of investments Carl Astorri returning to London from Melbourne to build and lead the investment team as it expands its public and private markets capability. He’ll be joined by new head of investment strategy John Normand who will lead the asset allocation research team that drives investment strategy across all major asset classes.
AustralianSuper’s investment will support Vantage’s plans to build its international pipeline of hyper scale data centres. Vantage’s strategy focuses on providing data centre services from a network of strategically located campuses. In the UK it is spending £750m to build two centres in London’s Park Royal and North Acton areas – for 75MW in total – which are expected to be completed in late 2024 and early 2025, respectively.
Its new investment capital will enable it to accelerate the delivery of its new data centre pipeline. The Fund expects to continue investing in Vantage’s EMEA platform over the coming years. Together, AustralianSuper and DigitalBridge-sponsored vehicles will support Vantage’s expansion and development of hyperscale data centres across EMEA.
Pipeline of developments
“The Vantage EMEA platform is at an exciting point in its history, with a strong pipeline of developments in growing markets across the region. We look forward to working with DigitalBridge and Vantage EMEA to continue to support the rapid growth of its customers while also delivering on our purpose to help more than 3.2 million members achieve their best financial position in retirement,” said Melbourne-based AustralianSuper head of infrastructure Nik Kemp.
“The Vantage EMEA platform will complement our existing digital infrastructure investments and this acquisition represents an important step for the fund as we build out our infrastructure capability in Europe,” he added.
“Vantage, led by an experienced management team, has a track record of success and is aligned with the long-term growth of cloud demand and the need for AI infrastructure,” said DigitalBridge senior managing director Jon Mauck.
“Digital infrastructure continues to demonstrate its resilience as an asset class, and we look forward to building on our track record as we become a partner of choice to Australian investors seeking to increase their exposure to high-quality digital infrastructure investments,” he added.
Vantage Data Centers president and CEO Sureel Choksi said “As data centre demand continues to rapidly accelerate across EMEA, this investment will fuel Vantage’s ability to accelerate the growth of our environmentally friendly, large-scale data centre footprint across the region and further deepen our relationships with customers as we enable them to grow and scale their businesses with reliable, efficient and sustainable data centres.”
Since entering the EMEA market in February 2020, Vantage EMEA has expanded to six countries and established its presence in some of the region’s most important financial and commercial hubs, including Frankfurt and Berlin, Germany; Milan, Italy; Warsaw, Poland; Johannesburg, South Africa; Zurich, Switzerland; and Cardiff, United Kingdom. Then company officially opened its new Asia Pacific regional headquarters in Singapore in May.
In March, Bloomberg revealed DigitalBridge was weighing up a minority stake sale [subscription] of Vantage Data Centers, so the move has been relatively quick.
International law firm Herbert Smith Freehills advised AustralianSuper on its €1.5bn investment.