AirTrunk raises $450m to build data centre here

S'pore facility is part of start-up's multibillion-dollar plan to be a regional technology powerhouse

BEIJING • Data centre start-up AirTrunk has raised $450 million in debt and equity to help build its first Singapore facility as part of a multibillion-dollar plan to become a regional technology powerhouse.

The Goldman Sachs Group and TPG Sixth Street Partners-backed company has already spent more than A$1 billion (S$965 million) on two data centres in Australia and will open its Singapore facility in two phases, according to founder Robin Khuda.

The first stage is expected to be ready by the middle of next year, and will allow half of its planned 60MW capacity to be sold to customers. The rest will be built when there is enough demand, with the total project taking up 1.5ha of land in Loyang and costing "in excess" of $500 million, he said.

AirTrunk is taking advantage of the rise in cloud computing as more businesses move their IT away from self-run data centres to servers run by the likes of Amazon Web Services and Alibaba Group Holding.

Companies such as AirTrunk, Digital Realty Trust and Equinix specialise in building cooled and powered spaces that are leased to cloud vendors and other large enterprises.

But the start-up will face much fiercer competition in high-tech hubs such as Singapore, where many of its rivals and potential customers have built their own infrastructure, thanks to government incentive programmes and global Internet links.

AirTrunk's new financing includes debt and a "sizeable" amount of equity raised from existing shareholders on a pro-rata basis, Mr Khuda said, without elaborating on the specific split.

 

The debt, provided by Goldman, Deutsche Bank and Natixis, will be syndicated to a larger group of lenders at a later stage.

It comes on top of a A$850 million five-year loan raised last year for the expansion of data centres in Sydney and Melbourne, which was later increased to A$900 million as the company won new customers.

"If you compare with typical greenfield project finance facilities, in terms of level of equity or equity-like instruments to debt, it's pretty consistent with what's in the market," Mr Khuda said in an interview. "We like to be prudent and want to make sure we are not overly leveraged.

While a portion of the funds will go into exploring other regional expansions, this will not be the last round of financing required, with Mr Khuda saying more facilities in Hong Kong and Tokyo could be online by next year.

"We expect multibillion-dollar investments between now and 2020," he said. BLOOMBERG

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 11, 2019, with the headline 'AirTrunk raises $450m to build data centre here'. Print Edition | Subscribe