I Squared Capital Is in Talks to Buy Mexico’s Kio Networks

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Infrastructure-focused investment firm I Squared Capital is in advanced talks to acquire Kio Networks, a data-center operator in Mexico and Central America, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

The transaction’s valuation couldn’t immediately be learned and as with any deal that hasn’t been finalized, it’s possible talks could collapse. Kio, backed by billionaire Maria Asuncion Aramburuzabala’s family office, Tresalia Capital, began exploring a sale last summer that could value the company at as much as $1 billion, Bloomberg News reported in August.

An I Squared spokesman declined to comment. A Kio spokesman said the company hasn’t finalized a sale agreement, declining to comment further.

A deal for Kio would be the latest marker of ongoing institutional investor interest in the sector. Earlier this month, affiliates of Blackstone Group Inc. agreed to buy data-center operator QTS Realty Trust Inc., and Singapore’s Mapletree Industrial Trust, which counts Temasek as a shareholder, bought a data center portfolio from Sila Realty Trust. This month, Singaporean sovereign-wealth fund GIC agreed to additional joint ventures with Equinix Inc.

Kio operates 40 data centers in Mexico, Panama, Guatemala, the Dominican Republic and Spain. Moody’s Investors Service wrote in an August note that although the coronavirus pandemic poses risks for the company, “its effect in operating metrics will be milder than what we anticipated at the outset of the virus outbreak.” The Mexican government is Kio’s main client, accounting for almost 50% of its revenue, which exposes it to delayed-payment risks, Moody’s said.

The Aramburuzabala family’s wealth originated largely from the sale of its stake in brewer Grupo Modelo SAB, the maker of Corona and Negra Modelo, to Anheuser-Busch InBev SA as part of a roughly $20 billion transaction in 2013. Aramburuzabala, along with her sister Lucrecia, inherited the stake in Modelo after their father, Pablo, died in 1995.

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