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Verne Global acquired for £231m as Nordic datacentre investment trend gathers pace

Icelandic colocation firm acquired by digital infrastructure investment fund as demand for datacentre capacity in the Nordics continues to grow

Icelandic colocation provider Verne Global has been acquired for £231m by investment firm Digital 9 Infrastructure.

The acquisition constitutes the first deal Digital 9 Infrastructure has completed to date that involves a datacentre operator. The company bills itself as an investment outfit that strives to operate a “diversified portfolio” of sustainability-focused infrastructure projects, with an emphasis on acquiring organisations that are involved in the delivery of global data transfer networks and server farms.

In a statement, Digital 9 Infrastructure said its acquisition of Verne Global is one of several deals it currently has in the works, as part of its commitment to invest in companies that will support the decarbonisation of the economy.

“The Verne Global Icelandic facility’s environmental credentials reaffirm Digital 9 Infrastructure’s datacentre strategy and, together with the subsea network platform, steps forward our ambition to decarbonise digital infrastructure by enabling better access to datacentres in areas of surplus renewable generation,” it said.

Verne Global operates a renewably powered datacentre, sited on a former NATO site in Keflavik, that specialises in providing a hosting environment for firms in the automotive, financial services and artificial intelligence market.

The firm’s location is often cited as a major lure for clients, given that Iceland has an abundant supply of relatively cheap, renewable power at its disposal, which means users can run energy-intensive workloads in its datacentre at lower cost.

And with demand for high-performance computing (HPC) workloads set to soar in the years to come, Digital 9 Infrastructure said the acquisition means it is well placed to tap into this trend.

“HPC workload demand has seen widespread growth across virtually all industries and sectors (forecast at 12% plus a year from 2020 to 20302) and Verne Global is ideally placed to benefit from this growth, particularly as companies increasingly look to decarbonise their digital infrastructure,” the company said.

Thor Johnsen, head of digital infrastructure at Triple Point, an investment management firm and Digital 9 Infrastructure backer, said that with sustainability matters increasingly creeping up the boardroom agenda, green datacentre assets such as those offered by Verne Global are sure to become increasingly sought after.

Read more about the Nordic datacentre market

“Verne Global’s existing Icelandic-based datacentre assets represent some of the cleanest, lowest-carbon footprint datacentres globally,” he said. “This is another key step to support decarbonising the datacentre industry.

“For society to meet key decarbonisation goals, we need to look for ways to shift energy consumptive activities to areas of surplus renewable energy. The digital infrastructure industry has an increasing energy footprint, particularly datacentres, which need to become more energy-efficient and green.”

Johnsen added: “However, as an industry, we should not rely on carbon offsets in markets which are already struggling to meet carbon targets, but we need to attract datacentre demand to areas where there are robust sources of renewable power.”

Dominic Ward, CEO of Verne Global, said the acquisition should enable the firm to capitalise in the demand it is seeing now from clients for renewably powered datacentre capacity.

“Our customers are growing fast and have a stronger focus than ever on sustainability and the acquisition [by Digital 9 Infrastructure] enables us to accelerate our growth and respond to our customers’ needs now and in the future,” he said.

“What Verne Global has achieved over the last decade is a fantastic accomplishment and this acquisition is a great acknowledgement of the exceptional team that we have. We are hugely excited to be working with Digital 9 Infrastructure and believe we have the perfect partner to help power our future.”

The Verne Global acquisition follows several other deals involving Nordic datacentre operators, including the July 2021 buyout of Nordic datacentre developer DigiPlex by global investment firm IPI, and the purchase of Norwegian datacentre operator Green Mountain by Israeli real estate firm Azrieli Group.

Read more on Datacentre energy efficiency and green IT

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