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Altitude Infrastructure has signed a 25-year concession agreement and closed a debt financing package for the deployment and maintenance of an ultra-high-speed broadband network in Haute-Garonne, a department in the south of France. The estimated total project investment is EUR516 million (US$606.8 million).
The concession agreement established a project company, Fiber 31, which is responsible for the design, construction, financing, marketing, operation and maintenance of the fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) network, which will cover nearly 280,000 households, public institutions and businesses in the department.
The shareholders of Fiber 31 are Altitude Infrastructure THD (50%), Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations (25%) and the Marguerite Fund (25%).
The company has secured debt financing and capital contributions from shareholders amounting to EUR298 million (US$350.4 million). The lenders involved are Société Générale, BNP Paribas, La Banque Postale, Crédit Foncier de France, Arkea Banque Entreprises et Institutionnels, Caisse d’Epargne de Normandie and Caisse d’Epargne de Midi-Pyrénées.
In the financing transaction, the sponsors were advised by Bird & Bird (legal), H3P (financial) and Forex Finance (hedging) while the lenders were advised by Orrick Rambaud Martel (legal), Mott MacDonald (technical), Gras Savoye (insurance) and KPMG (modelling).
The network is scheduled to be fully deployed by 2022. This is a significant achievement for the department, who initially targeted a full fiber-optic ultra-high-speed roll-out by 2030.
Ultra-high-speed refers to fiber to the premise broadband which is capable of giving minimum downlink speed of 100 megabits per second (mbps) and minimum uplink speed of 50 mbps.
It is attracting much attention in France at the moment, with the French government's Digital Agency (L'Agence du Numérique) aiming to bring ultra-high-speed broadband service to every home, business and government office in the country by 2022 through the Ultra High Speed Plan (Plan France Très Haut Débit), estimated to require EUR20 billion (US$23.5 billion) investment over a 10-year implementation period.