French network operator Sigfox has sold its German low power, long range network for the Internet of Things (IoT) to a fund manager to raise cash.
The deal with fund manager Cube Infrastructure Managers (Cube) is pitched as strategic alliance, as it is also buying a majority stake in Heliot Europe, the owner and operator of the Sigfox networks in Austria, Switzerland and Liechtenstein, to create a Europe-wide IoT network.
The value of the German sale was not disclosed but it will allow Sigfox to finance its continued innovation efforts in data value extraction and improvements in cloud algorithms to reduce energy consumption and allow the implementation of even more cost-effective devices and sensors says the company
Sigfox has networks in 72 countries and regions, some owned directly such as Germany but most owned by partners such as Heliot, called Sigfox Operators. These operators are the owners of the networks, which they operate as exclusive connectivity providers of Sigfox IoT services, offering worldwide connectivity to customers.
Cube sees the deal as bringing together the networks of all four countries to create the largest IoT network in Europe. The aim is to accelerate the growth of this essential and exclusive IoT infrastructure in the region in joint venture with the operating management of the networks, which retains a minority stake in Heliot Europe.
“The acquisition of Sigfox Germany is a key milestone in our development and we will pursue commercial development initiated by Sigfox Germany with tier one customers in the country and beyond, in retail, automotive and logistics,” said Thomas Scheibel, CEO at Heliot. “This combined network from the Adriatic to the North Sea reflects our clients expectations and plays well to our operational strengths. We are looking to further accelerate and foster the adoption of IoT at the heart of European industry. This is made possible with the successful and entrepreneurial team already fully integrated into the Sigfox ecosystem as well as the powerful financial backing and experience of Cube Infrastructure Managers. This is also an unprecedented opportunity to reinforce our strategic and long-term alliance with Sigfox,” he said.
Rather than competing with cellular technology, Sigfox has pitched its proprietary low power, long range network as complementary as it uses far less energy and radio spectrum and cost far less. It provides the cloud services to the network operators as well as licensing the technology to operators, device makers and chip makers such as ST Microelectronics and ON Semiconductor.
“From the very beginning, Sigfox has been aiming to offer customers an ever-better service, through innovation, densification, a mature ecosystem, and a high return on investment. Selling Sigfox Germany to dedicated and long-term partners such as Heliot and Cube will allow us to keep this promise,” said Ludovic Le Moan, CEO and cofounder of Sigfox. “Our goal at Sigfox, with our operators and our ecosystem partners, is to minimize data extraction costs. Sharing infrastructure is a first step toward lower TCO, and higher reliability and interoperability.”
Cube started out backing fibre optic infrastructure companies.
“We are known as pioneers among infrastructure funds for investing early in optic fibre infrastructure companies in Europe, long before fibre became the “fourth utility” and have over the last decade accompanied the growth of several European infrastructure operators,” said Henri Piganeau, Managing Partner at Cube Infrastructure Managers.
“Today, we see the development of massive IoT as a critical enabler and driver of economic, social and environmental progress in the context of the digital transformation of our economies. With this investment in the Heliot platform and strategic alliance with Sigfox, we are now aiming at consolidating a new communication infrastructure, harnessing its potential to enhance the competitiveness of our industries and territories, and contributing to the efficient use of public services and scarce resources consistent with our ESG objectives,” he said.
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