Partners Group, the global private markets investment manager, has agreed to acquire Axia NetMedia (“Axia” or “the Company”), a fiber network operator currently listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange (ticker: AXX), on behalf of its clients. At CAD 4.25 per share, Partners Group’s offer represents a premium of 49% to Axia’s share price at close of business on 8 March 2016, valuing the Company at a market capitalization of CAD 272 million. The offer is unanimously recommended by Axia’s Board of Directors.
Axia NetMedia designs, installs and operates “open access” fiber-based internet and data networks across North America and France, specializing in bringing fast broadband to rural and semi-rural areas. Telecom companies and other customers rent capacity in Axia’s networks in order to provide internet and data services to their corporate and household customers. Axia and its subsidiaries already operate approximately 26’000 km of fiber networks and have numerous opportunities for growth, both in terms of expanding their existing networks in Canada and France as well as pursuing further network developments around the globe. Founded in 1994, Axia has its corporate headquarters in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
Brandon Prater, Partner, Co-Head Private Infrastructure, Partners Group, comments: “Axia NetMedia provides the 21st century communication infrastructure available in urban centers to rural communities. The Company has built great fiber networks under the expertise of its management team, led by Arthur Price. We are confident that Partners Group’s experience in the communications sector, coupled with our global platform, represent an excellent match for Axia’s growth strategy and will help the Company to continue its development going forward. Our plan is to provide Axia with the expansion capital it needs and access to our platform to become a world-class communication network operator.”
Arthur Price, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman, Axia NetMedia, adds: “We welcome Partners Group’s support for our business and are confident we have found the right partner to drive forward Axia’s growth. We are convinced that the acquisition will be mutually beneficial for both existing shareholders and new investors, as well as for the Company’s long-term growth plans. Our Board of Directors supports the transaction and will ask shareholders to approve the acquisition offer. Partners Group has a strong presence in our key markets, an extensive industry network and a proven track record in building out successful infrastructure platforms. We look forward to working with Partners Group to further expand our business and realize its full growth potential.”
The purchase of Axia would be Partners Group’s second significant fiber network investment in the last twelve months. In December 2015, the firm closed its investment into the construction of Seabras-1, the first direct subsea fiber optic cable between New York and São Paulo, on behalf of its clients. Partners Group provided all of the equity financing for the project, which is being developed by Seaborn Networks and has a total project cost of approximately USD 500 million. Like Axia’s networks, Seabras-1 is carrier-neutral.