Swiss investment manager Partners Group, has bought atNorth, the Icelandic data center operator.

Partners Group is a "thematic investor" deal, and says atNorth is its fourth digital infrastructure investment in 2021, with a total of $4 billion invested in a "digitization theme" since its inception. It is the first significant data center investment from the group known to DCD.

Magnus Eyjolfur Kristinsson (1).jpg
Magnus Eyjolfur Kristinsson, atNorth CEO – atNorth

atNorth has two facilities in Iceland totaling 83MW, and is building an 11MW site in Stockholm, Sweden.

Crypto crash?

In its Icelandic data centers, atNorth benefits from very low power costs for entirely renewable electricity, thanks to the country's abundance of geothermal and hydroelectric power. atNorth, formerly known as Advania, has become the default location for Icelandic government IT resources as well as local enterprises. It has also built a significant business around high performance computing (HPC) as well as a lot of cryptocurrency mining, as these sectors demand a low energy cost, and can continue with the high latency caused by Iceland's distance from the continent of Europe.

Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have crashed significantly in November and December, which could be part of the reason behind atNorth's shareholders' decision to sell

The Nordic data market as a whole has been growing fast, however, with analyst Atman Solon forecasting growth of 25 percent per year. atNorth's Stockholm facility is due to start operations in February 2022.

Partners Group says it wants to "transform atNorth into a leading pan-Nordic provider of sustainable and efficient data center solutions", to which end it will have to work with management on a "transformational value creation plan". There will be new sites, a bigger portfolio of contracts, and a better connectivity ecosystem, Partners promises.

Esther Peiner, managing director, private infrastructure Europe, Partners Group, said: "This opportunity to build next generation infrastructure across the Nordics lies at the intersection of our digitization and decarbonization giga themes. Emerging technologies, such as machine learning, AI, and 5G, will likely drive exponential growth in the data center infrastructure required to power and run such applications. Meanwhile, there is rising demand from businesses for green IT solutions. We have conviction in atNorth's growth potential and look forward to working with CEO Eyjólfur Magnús Kristinsson and deputy CEO Eva Guðbjörnsdóttir on our transformational value creation plan."

Eyjólfur Magnús Kristinsson, CEO of atNorth, said: "atNorth's mission has been to be a leading Nordic provider of green colocation data center services and high-performance computing solutions by leveraging our experience building both cost and power-efficient colocation data centers. As we have established our data center operations in both Iceland and Sweden, we are now looking to accelerate our expansion. We believe Partners Group is the perfect fit to start the next phase of our journey, given the firm's extensive experience in digital infrastructure, operational expertise, and financial resources."

atNorth was formed as Advania in 2012 from three components: Skyrr, a public sector IT specialist in Iceland; Kerfi, a Swedish outfit with roots in a Nokia spinoff called Datapoint, and Hands from Norway.

In Iceland, the company has data centers in Keflavík and just outside Reykjavík in Hafnarfjörðu.

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