Stirling Square enters Italy with Metroweb buy-in

Stirling Square Capital Partnes, a European mid-market firm, has backed a €230m management buy-in of Metroweb, a fibre optics network business based in Milan.

Stirling Square Capital Partners, a pan-European private equity firm, has made its first investment in Italy with the management buy-in of Metroweb, a fibre optics network, in a €230 million ($295 million) deal.
 
Stirling Square Capital Partners acquired a majority stake in Metroweb from AEM, a listed energy utility group based in Milan. AEM will retain a 23.5 percent stake in the business following completion of the transaction.
 
ING Bank provided debt financing for the transaction. Stirling Square Capital Partners was advised by Pavia & Ansaldo and Clifford Chance.
 
Metroweb, which rents its fibre optics network to telecom operators, was founded in 1998 as a result of a joint venture between AEM and e.Biscom, a subsidiary of Fastweb, an Italian broadband provider. AEM acquired 100 percent of Metroweb when it exited its joint venture with Fastweb in 2003, although Fastweb remains Metroweb’s largest customer.
 
Stirling Square Capital Partners has brought in a new management team led by Alberto Trondoli, a former general manager of Metroweb and chief technology officer of Fastweb, and including other former senior managers of both companies . The firm said that the team will target new user segments and provide new product offerings targeted at private and public utility services.
 
Metroweb is Stirling Square Capital Partners’ third investment in 2006, following the £90 million buyout of Whittan Storage Systems, a UK storage provider, from Permira in February; and the £100 million buyout of 3SI Security Systems, an electronic security systems business, from American Capital Strategies in March.
 
Established in October 2002, London-based Stirling Square Capital Partners focuses on the European mid-market, investing from its inaugural vehicle, which is backed by a €250 million cornerstone investment from Citigroup.