Belgian network operator Proximus is teaming up with private equity partners in a bid to deliver gigabit fiber service to 95% of the country. The telco is planning to reach a final joint venture (JV) agreement with I4B by the end of 2022.
The company this week inked a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with I4B – The Belgian Infrastructure Fund – whose founding investors are the Federal Holding and Investment Company (SFPI-FPIM), AG Insurance and Synatom, will act as an anchor investor to the project. I4B’s mission is to finance the development of infrastructure with a positive impact on Belgium’s economic development, while taking into account societal and environmental requirements.
One of the joint ventures will focus on rollouts in the French-speaking Wallonia region of the country while the other will zero in on Dutch-speaking Flanders. Proximus will serve as a minority shareholder for each JV and the anchor tenant on the networks built in each region.
Proximus and I4B plan to spend around €4 billion (approximately $4.2 billion) between the two JVs. Petra De Sutter, Belgium’s deputy prime minister, said in a statement the partnership between Proximus and I4B will help ensure internet access in areas with “no or insufficient connectivity today.”
According to a report released by the FTTH Council Europe in May, Belgium topped the list as the fastest growing fiber market in the European Union (including the U.K.) by percentage. Its figures showed Belgium’s number of homes passed grew 109% between September 2020 and September 2021, outpacing Israel (107%) Greece (90%), Cyprus (83% and the U.K. (80%).