Dutch civil service scheme ABP is investing €400m in a fibre optic rollout venture with Dutch telecommunications company KPN.

The €493bn pension fund is financing a roll-out programme to connect 700,000 households and 200,000 companies in rural areas in the Netherlands to KPN’s fibre optic network.

ABP is paying €440m in cash for a 50% stake in the €1.2bn joint venture, with the remaining investment being financed with debt.

The investment will enable the roll-out of a fibre optic network over the next five years to “almost one thousand villages and rural communities”, ABP and KPN said in a joint statement. Originally, these rural areas were planned to be connected to fast internet only after 2026.

The investment does not add to ABP’s goal to invest 20% of its assets in the Sustainable Development Goals. “This is because the roll-out does not concern areas that are currently not connected to the internet,” a spokesperson for ABP said.

However, the investment does contribute to the energy transition, said ABP trustee Menno Snel.

“Fibre optic is not only faster than copper or TV cable connections but also uses much less energy. This makes this investment meaningful for our members in more than one respect,” he added.

7% return

ABP said it expects an “attractive return in line with other worldwide investment in optic fibre networks” on its investments.

Over the past ten years, the pension fund achieved an average annual return of 7% on its fibre optic investments in France and the US and intends to further increase its investments in the area.

“Our asset manager APG is currently exploring the options, some of which are very concrete,” the spokesperson said.

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