EQT’s core infrastructure fund is planning to buy French water and heat submetering infrastructure provider Ocea from current owner ICG.

The global investment firm said its EQT Active Core Infrastructure fund has entered exclusive negotiations to acquire Ocea from ICG Infrastructure Equity I (ICG Infra).

Sources tell IPE Real Assets that Ocea is expected to be sold for around €600m.

ICG Infra, ICG’s debut infrastructure fund took full control of Ocea a year ago after Crédit Agricole Assurances sold its stake in the metering business. Prior to that, ICG, which held around a 51% interest, had acquired its initial stake in 2019 from InfraVia.

“Since we first invested in Ocea, our support has allowed the company to continuously strengthen its position as a leading energy efficiency player by growing its installed base of sub-meters whilst also expanding into additional business lines synergetic with its core business. We are proud to have accelerated this critical mission over the past four years,” Guillaume d’Engremont, the head of infrastructure at ICG said.

Ocea operates more than four million heat and water submeters. The company provides a range of submetering services to over 7,000 public and private customers, including installation and rental, reading and data collection, and maintenance and replacement.

EQT said it plans to support Ocea’s growth in its core submetering business and across other adjacent solutions in the environmental, data management and smart housing segments.

Fabian Gröne, partner in the EQT Active Core Infrastructure advisory team, said: “This potential investment aligns with EQT’s approach of investing in essential services that have a positive impact on society, and builds on our track record in the circularity and resource efficiency themes.

“Ocea would mark EQT Active Core Infrastructure’s third investment, which is focused on acquiring core businesses with strong downside protection and inflation-linked contracts backed by thematic market growth – while still providing significant value-creation opportunities from EQT’s active ownership approach.”

Thomas Rajzbaum, partner and head of EQT’s French infrastructure advisory team, said: “We are thrilled by the prospect of partnering with the management team to further strengthen the company’s positioning in France and abroad through continued growth in its asset base and investments in digitalisation and sustainable customer solutions.”

Emmanuel Croc, CEO of Ocea, said: “We see the demand for submetering solutions steadily increasing amidst continued volatility in energy costs, increased customer awareness and desire to save, coupled with a favourable regulatory landscape.

“By combining Ocea’s footprint and customer relationships with EQT’s experience in the energy sector, we plan to scale the platform further and grow in attractive adjacencies such as geothermal.”

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