EU loan of €400m to boost fibre coverage in Belgium
Proximus borrows €400m from EU bank to expand fibre coverage to homes and businesses in Belgium
Belgian operator Proximus – the former Belgacom – has borrowed €400 million to fund further fibre in its residential and business networks.
The money comes from the European Investment Bank (EIB), the long-term lending institution of the European Union that is owned by its member states.
Dominique Leroy, CEO of Proximus, said: “Through the EIB loan, we have gained a cost-effective long-term, reliable financing partner for one of our most important strategic projects.”
Proximus, which is the major shareholder in BICS, said it is planning to invest €3 billion over 10 years on fibre networks, to 85% of the country’s businesses and bring fiber to the centres of cities and communes in Belgium.
EIB director general Jean-Christophe Laloux said: “We are pleased to support Proximus in this unprecedented investment to roll-out their fibre-optic network across Belgium. This investment will significantly enhance access by both residential and business users to ultra-high speed broadband, This is key today – for citizens and companies alike – to reap the benefits of the digital single market.”
The EIB said it is supporting the roll-out of high-speed internet in the context of the European Union’s Digital Agenda for Europe 2020 strategy, which calls for the expansion of high-performance high-speed fixed and mobile networks.
Sandrine Dufour, CFO of Proximus, said: “The cooperation with the EIB will help to optimise our capital structure by lengthening the average duration of our debt portfolio as well as further diversifying our funding sources at attractive interest rates.”
Last week, announcing Proximus’s results, Leroy said: “In 2018, we will continue our transformation journey to turn Proximus into a customer-focused and fitter organisation, continuing our efficiency and simplification efforts to further structurally reduce our costs and transition to a digital company.”