Denmark’s PFA’s €200m investment in European data centre operator Data4 in 2020 doubled in value when sold to Brookfield Infrastructure, yielding a 25% annual return.

The DKK736bn (€99bn) occupational pension provider revealed it made a profit of DKK1.45bn when it sold the 20% stake in Data4 to Brookfield, which it said corresponded to an annual return of around 25% over the three years it had held the asset.

Back in May 2020, when it announced the purchase of the Data4 stake, PFA disclosed it paid AXA €200m for the asset.

In April this year, Brookfield announced its entry into European data centres with an agreement to buy Data4 - which operates and plans facilities in France, Spain, Italy, Germany, Poland and Luxembourg - from AXA IM Alts

According to media reports, Data4 had been valued at around €3.5bn the previous month.

AXA IM Alts took full ownership of the data centre operator on behalf of its clients in July 2018. Under the ownership of AXA IM Alts, Data4’s portfolio increased to 31 data centres across six countries - including its plans in Germany - from the 15 centres it had across France, Italy and Luxembourg in 2018.

Michael Bruhn, head of real estate at PFA, said on Friday: “We entered into the investment in 2020 because we could see that the supply of data centres could not keep up with the increasing demand.

“Today we can see that the expectation of a high return was well-founded, and it feels good to be able to pass on more than a billion to the customers,” said Bruhn, who recently announced he was leaving PFA after more than 10 years at the Copenhagen-based firm.

Noting that the tech-heavy Nasdaq 100 index had risen over 40% since last autumn, PFA said it had been the emergence of artificial intelligence such as ChatGPT that had strengthened the value of the tech companies, and that the technology was expected to increase the need for data centres.

“We follow the tech sector closely and, on a general level, have invested in a large number of leading companies that supply both technology and know-how for development,” Bruhn said.

“At the same time, we have continued to own shares in a number of data centres in the US and Asia, which are experiencing strongly increasing demand for data storage,” he said.

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