Blackstone to take majority stake in Winthrop Technologies

Private equity giant takes control of Irish data centre construction business

US private equity group Blackstone has bought a controlling stake in data centre business Winthrop Technologies in a deal that values the Irish company at more than €800 million.

The deal sees Blackstone take a 50.7 per cent stake in Winthrop, with existing shareholders that include founder Barry English, group chief executive Anne Dooley, and managing director Bernard Keane retaining the remainder of the shares.

The company has not disclosed the financial details of the transaction, but previous reports put the valuation for Winthrop at more than €800 million.

Winthrop Technologies has become one of the biggest construction companies focused on the data centre sector in Europe, with a portfolio of projects in Dublin, Warsaw, Amsterdam and Munich, among other locations. It operates across seven European markets.

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“The partnership with Blackstone marks a new era of growth for Winthrop Technologies,” said Ms Dooley. “This is an investment in the company’s leadership, and our team at all levels, who have achieved our strong current market position and will continue to drive Winthrop Technologies into its next phase.”

With the backing of Blackstone, Winthrop expects to accelerate its growth and tap into the growing demand for data centres worldwide, fuelled by the shift to artificial intelligence and the increased adoption of cloud technologies, both of which increase demand for computing power.

“We are at an inflection point where we are seeing once-in-a-generation demand for data centres, and we believe Winthrop Technologies will be instrumental in powering this digital infrastructure revolution”, said Raphael de Botton, senior managing director at Blackstone. “This transaction is an example of Blackstone’s long-term conviction in investing in this megatrend, and we are excited to partner with Winthrop’s management team as they embark on their next phase of growth.”

Chairman of Winthrop Technologies Michael Cawley said the investment was a “strong vote of confidence” in the management and staff at the company.

The company will continue to operate under the Winthrop brand, and focus on the European data centre market. Data centres have proved a lucrative investment with major tech companies investing significantly in further capacity as the move to digitalisation continues in the wake of the pandemic. Amazon, Google and Meta are among the companies that have invested significantly in their infrastructure to support future needs.

Pretax profits at Winthrop increased almost sixfold to €86.17 million last year, The Irish Times reported in September. Consolidated accounts for the Dublin-headquartered business showed the business achieved the sharp increase in profits in the year to April 2023 as revenues topped €1 billion for the first time, surging 55 per cent.

Still, data centres have become controversial in Ireland in recent years given their electricity consumption – the International Energy Agency estimates they will consume about a third of the State’s total electricity by 2026.

Blackstone has also been eyeing the data centre sector, with a $7 billion joint venture with US-based Digital Realty to develop a number of hyperscale data centre campuses.

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