Ardian acquires data center firm Verne in Northern Europe expansion drive

A map of Europe at night with cities illuminated by street lights
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French private investment firm Ardian has completed the acquisition of the entire share capital of Verne, a data center platform headquartered in the UK. 

It bought the company, formerly known as Verne Global, from UK investment firm Digital 9 Infrastructure (D9), which acquired the firm for £231 million in 2021.

The new deal will see Ardian support the expansion of Verne across northern Europe with up to $1.2 billion in committed investment through equity and debt.

"With this new investment, the infrastructure team continues to demonstrate its capacity to seize unique and value accretive opportunities in the European market to deploy our new flagship infrastructure fund," said Juan Angoitia and Benoît Gaillochet, co-heads of Infrastructure Europe at Ardian.

"Having identified the company through our systemic matrix sourcing approach, looking through both a digital infrastructure and country specific lens, we identified Verne as a truly green data center compared with its peers globally."

Founded in 2012, Verne services organizations running high-performance computing workloads - in particular AI, machine learning, and large language models - including industrial organizations, financial services, research bodies, and AI firms.

It currently operates with 100% renewable energy in Iceland, where it offers colocation and high-performance computing services. The firm also uses 100% decarbonized energy at sites in Finland and the UK.

Its Icelandic campus operates as a telecommunications exchange hub, with direct high-capacity connectivity to the US and Europe.

Ardian said it plans to ramp up Verne’s existing sold capacity of 29 MW for 2023 by nearly four times in the medium term. It's looking at new locations, with a focus on Iceland, Finland, Sweden, and Norway, as well as potential opportunities more broadly in Northern Europe.

Ardian currently manages or advises $164 billion of assets on behalf of more than 1,600 clients globally. It has $31 billion of assets under management in direct infrastructure activities, with $6 billion deployed across different sub-sectors of digital infrastructure.

Its investment portfolio of renewable energy in the Nordics currently totals $3 billion, including wind parks adding up to around 500 MW, as well as Nevel, a Finnish district heating company backed by Ardian in 2021.

"This investment is fully aligned with our approach at Ardian of investing into platforms and delivering strong returns through major industrial strategy backed by an accelerated capex plan," said Gonzague Boutry, managing director of digital infrastructure at Ardian.

"Ardian will support Verne’s top tier management team to match the incredible and fascinating customer AI-driven demand. With this investment, Ardian Infrastructure is now exposed to the whole digital infrastructure value chain capitalizing on global digitalization trends."

Emma Woollacott

Emma Woollacott is a freelance journalist writing for publications including the BBC, Private Eye, Forbes, Raconteur and specialist technology titles.