Australian UniSuper has invested A$1bn (€614m) to buy a 5% stake in the mobile towers business Vantage Towers.

The acquisition – which marks the A$115bn industry fund’s first direct infrastructure investment – was made through a relationship with KKR.

Vantage Towers is a mobile towers business in Europe, with a portfolio of more than 83,000 sites across 10 markets including Germany, Italy, Spain and UK. Vantage Towers’s anchor tenant and shareholder is Vodafone, Europe’s largest mobile-network operator.

Last November, KKR and Global Infrastructure Partners, through their core infrastructure strategies, agreed to create a joint venture with Vodafone to hold Vodafone’s 81.7% stake in Vantage Towers. The transaction valued Vantage Towers at €16.2bn.

Sandra Lee, UniSuper’s head of private markets, said the investment would complement UniSuper’s large infrastructure portfolio – which includes Sydney, Adelaide and Brisbane Airports, Transurban Chesapeake, and a growing allocation to forestry assets.

“This is a high-quality defensive infrastructure investment with strong fundamentals and growth prospects,” Lee said. Vantage Towers would add to UniSuper’s approximately A$15bn private markets portfolio.

“The expected significant growth in data demand underpins our interest in the digital infrastructure sector. At a time of economic uncertainty, we remain cautiously opportunistic, and this is a great example of that approach,” she said.

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