100% of French households equipped with high speed technology by 2022.
France targets to equip 100% of the country's households with high speed technology, namely optical fiber, by 2022: A €20 billion 10-year plan financed by public-private partnerships, with Societe Generale playing a key financing role.
Fiber broadband is the future of internet connectivity, making computers, smartphones and other devices run at light speed. Anticipating the boom of the “Internet of Things” in the years to come and the importance of widespread broadband access, the French government launched an ambitious program in 2013 called Plan France Très Haut Debit – High-Speed Network plan. The €20 billion 10-year plan aims at equipping 100% of the country's households with high speed technology, essentially optical fiber, providing at least 30Mb/s high speed broadband by 2022.
To further illustrate the importance of this plan and its positive impact on the economy, Laurent Chabot, Societe Generale Co-Head of the French Infrastructure team, points out that:
“The stakes are high: creation of new jobs, higher competiveness for businesses, and social benefits with the improvement of communication conditions for people, particularly in rural areas where private investment is often lacking”
Rural residents, representing 40% of the country's population, will see dramatic improvements in their internet connection capabilities with speeds jumping from 3 to 30Mb per second, bringing them up to par with their fellow city-dwellers. Altogether, an impressive 9,000 new jobs will be created as specialists are needed to build, operate and maintain new broadband lines. In the largest deal so far, the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region will see the creation of 2,600 new jobs.
A €20 billion 10-year financing plan
Three major “fiber-to-the-home” projects of this €20bn plan have already been launched and financed through public-private partnerships (PPPs) or concession contracts signed between public bodies and private sponsors. Societe Generale has been supporting and partnering with all of them to date. In total, this represents an investment of €1.7 billion, namely for:
- Nord-Pas-de-Calais with Axione (awarded Telecom Deal of the Year 2016 in Europe by Project Finance International);
- Seine-et-Marne with Covage;
- Alsace with NGE-Altitude.
Partner in the Alsace transaction, Thierry Bodard, CEO of NGE Concessions and President of Rosace, comments on our long-term and non-recourse offering
“Societe Generale has been a true partner, no other significant greenfield broadband deal had been closed before, and our Consortium needed a seasoned and innovative Mandated Lead Arranger capable of understanding this new asset class and implementing a swift execution of the financing.”
It is thanks to reactivity and team work of Societe Generale’s Technology, Media and Telecom (TMT) and Infrastructure teams that the bank was able to take this pioneering role on the French market in 2016.
“We are proud to be a partner of the Plan France Très Haut Debit and be at the forefront of this digital revolution”
comments Denis de Paillerets, Societe Generale Global Co-Head of TMT Finance.
“Our expertise in the TMT sector combined with our capabilities in project finance has allowed us to propose innovative and efficient structured financing solutions, including non-recourse to our sponsors.”
Societe Generale is paving the way to enlarge its expertise to a broader European project as other countries also seek to strengthen their networks under a European wide initiative called the Digital Agenda for Europe Flagship Initiative that aims to connect the entire EU population to a broadband network of over 30Mb per second by 2020.
Understanding PPPs: it’s just a matter of bricks…
For a closer look at how a Concession/public-private partnership (PPP) works, we can think of the deal set-up as the construction of a new house in which the 3 stakeholders, the public body, private companies and bankers, provide their own bricks for the layout of the foundation. The public “bricks” are local, regional and state supporters of sustainable development. The private “bricks” are independent companies such as Axione, Covage and Altitude. And finally, the financial “bricks” are Infrastructure Funds, commercial banks such as Societe Generale, and institutional investors such as La Banque Postale AM and SCOR IP that invest for the long-term and help syndicate debt.