HomeCarriersSigfox sells German network to new VC parent of key trans-Europe operations

Sigfox sells German network to new VC parent of key trans-Europe operations

Sigfox has sold its wholly-owned Germany narrowband IoT network to Sigfox operator Heliot Europe, which has been acquired as part of the same deal by Luxembourg-based venture capital firm Cube Infrastructure Managers. No fee has been mentioned.

The arrangement puts Cube Infrastructure Managers, via its purchase of Heliot Europe, in majority charge of Sigfox operations in Austria, Switzerland and Liechtenstein, as well as the Sigfox network in Germany. Sigfox said the sale leaves it to finance new innovation to improve data management, reduce energy consumption, and lower costs. 

Prior to the deal, Sigfox had owned and managed Sigfox networks in France, Germany, and the US; Sigfox-branded networks in other markets have been managed by licensed operators. Sigfox has deployed networks in 72 countries and regions; the French and US networks remain its only self-owned businesses. 

Switzerland-based Sigfox operator Heliot Europe had been managing networks in Austria and Liechtenstein, as well as its home country; it adds the German Sigfox networks to its roster, under the stewardship of infrastructure fund manager Cube Infrastructure Managers, which has major investments in fibre infrastructure in Europe, and works also in energy supply, public transport, and waste management. 

It makes Heliot Europe the largest multi-market Sigfox operator in Europe, in charge, effectively, of a continuous narrowband IoT network from the Adriatic to the North Sea. A statement said: “Cube’s objective is to accelerate the growth of this essential and exclusive IoT infrastructure in the region in joint venture with the operating management of the networks, which retains a minority stake in Heliot Europe.”

Ludovic Le Moan, chief executive and cofounder of Sigfox, said: “From the beginning, Sigfox has been aiming to offer customers an ever-better service, through innovation, densification, a mature ecosystem, and a high return on investment. 

“Selling Sigfox Germany to dedicated and long-term partners such as Heliot and Cube will allow us to keep this promise. We have built and created value to the world’s first low power network. A network built to last. This is reflected in the ever-increasing number of customers who join us every day.”

Sigfox re-stated its (relatively recent) mission statement about providing low-power wide-area narrowband IoT connectivity, branded as 0G connectivity, as a complement to the standard cellular networking Gs, including NB-IoT and LTE-M as IoT subsets of the LTE and 5G families. “Rather than competing with cellular, Sigfox 0G has proved to complement this technology where it is not suitable thanks to devices which use far less energy and radio spectrum and cost far less,” it said. 

Henri Piganeau, managing partner at Cube Infrastructure Managers, said: “We see the development of massive IoT as a critical enabler and driver of economic, social and environmental progress in the context of the digital transformation of our economies. 

“With this investment in the Heliot platform and strategic alliance with Sigfox, we are aiming at consolidating a new communication infrastructure, harnessing its potential to enhance the competitiveness of our industries and territories, and contributing to the efficient use of public services and scarce resources consistent with our environment and social governance objectives.”

Thomas Scheibel, chief executive at Heliot, said: “Our vision started two years ago with agreements with Sigfox for Austria, Switzerland and Liechtenstein. The acquisition of Sigfox Germany is a key milestone in our development and we will pursue commercial development initiated by Sigfox Germany with tier one customers in the country and beyond, in retail, automotive and logistics. 

“This new combined 0G network reflects our clients expectations and plays well to our operational strengths. We are looking to further accelerate and foster the adoption of IoT at the heart of European industry. This is made possible with the successful and entrepreneurial team already fully integrated into the Sigfox ecosystem as well as the powerful financial backing and experience of Cube Infrastructure Managers. This is also an unprecedented opportunity to reinforce our strategic and long-term alliance with Sigfox.”

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