A joint-venture formed in 2019 by the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System, along with Altice, Allianz Capital Partners and AXA Investment Managers’ real assets division, is gearing up to purchase wholesale fibre operator, Covage.

The venture, SFR FttH, has made an exclusivity agreement regarding Covage for a total cash consideration of €1 billion, with the transaction expected to close in the first half of 2020, subject to regulatory approvals.

“Today’s news reaffirms the commitment of our partnership to accelerate the roll-out of optical fibre networks in France,” said Philippe Busslinger, head of Europe for OMERS Infrastructure, in a press release. “We are delighted with our investment in SFR FttH to date and its potential as a growth platform. OMERS Infrastructure is looking forward to supporting further investments in fibre, and more broadly in the telecom infrastructure space alongside experienced operators.”

Covage’s reach will significantly add to SFR FttH’s overall footprint. It is the fourth largest fibre wholesale operator in France.

“Our support for this transaction underlines OMERS Infrastructure’s desire to increase our portfolio’s exposure to high-quality telecom infrastructure assets,” said Ralph Berg, global head of infrastructure at OMERS. “It also speaks directly to our view of France as one of the most attractive jurisdictions for financial infrastructure investors like ourselves that want to support the build-up of fibre networks. We are also keen to continue to develop partnerships with reputable and experienced strategic operators such as Altice.”