The $10 Billion Dollar Data Center Deal

The Blackstone acquisition of QTS Realty for $10 billion is the biggest deal ever for the data center industry. We highlighted the potential for these type of huge M&A deals in DCF’s 2021 forecast, noting the massive investor interest in funding the growth of digital infrastructure. With so many players, it amplifies the role of FOMO – the Fear of Missing Out. Here’s some thought on the Blackstone-QTS deal, what it means for data center M&A, and what comes next.

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Transcript: The $10 Billion Data Center Deal

Hey everyone! We have officially entered the era of the $10 billion data center deal. Let’s talk about what that means for the industry and for data center M&A going forward. Of course I’m talking about Monday’s acquisition of QTS Rrealty by Blackstone Infrastructure, which was priced at $10 billion dollars in its valuation of the QTS operation. That makes it the richest data center deal of all time, surpassing the previous leaders, which were both acquisitions by Digital Realty, which bought Interxion for $8.4 billion dollars back in 2019 and prior to that spent $7.8 billion dollars to purchase DuPont Fabros Technology in 2017.

Who saw this coming? Well it was one of the things that we talked about at Data Center Frontier in our 2021 forecast, which we call Eight Trends to Shape the Data Center Industry. We noted that there is a good likelihood of a lot of large data center M&A deals, including perhaps some outsized ones like we saw with the Blackstone acquisition of QTS.

What made us expect this? It all has to do with a phenomenon known as FOMO – the fear of missing out. There’s a large number of global investors who want to put money to work in the data center industry, but there’s a limited number of platforms available companies that have the scale and breadth to give a financial company an immediate presence in the data center industry As the data center consolidation has proceeded, it’s left fewer and fewer of these significant data center platforms available for acquisition, leaving would-be acquirers the option of building greenfield data centers, stitching together portfolios or single data centers into a platform, or making a big move and trying to acquire an existing player with a substantial presence.

The QTS Data Centers Shellhorn DC-1 project in Ashburn. (Image: QTS)

The QTS Data Centers Shellhorn DC-1 project in Ashburn. (Image: QTS)

That, of course, is what we’ve seen with Blackstone and QTS. QTS has more than 7 million square feet of data center space across North America and Europe and thus is a both a pretty big bite financially but also a big way to get into the industry. This deal highlights some of what’s been changing in data center M&A. We typically have a couple of kinds of buyers – they could include strategic buyers who are companies operating in the space, who want to expand geographically or add new capabilities or different kinds of lines of business. Then you have financial buyers, which includes these global investors that have been flooding into the industry.

As deals have gotten more expensive and valuations have grown, it’s made it a little harder for the private equity players and strategic players to compete. So what do things look like going forward? An interesting wrinkle in the QTS deal is that there is a “go shop” provision that allows them to field offers from other suitors for another 40 days. Could there be a higher bid for QTS? The bar has been set really high with that $10 billion dollar valuation.

Could QTS play a strategic role in another provider’s operations and plans going forward? Might one of these large global investors feel like they have to to have the opportunity to get into the market and see paying more for QTS as an option? Stay tuned as we continue to watch this drama.

And look for more large acquisitions in the data center sector, which is reflected in the Wall Street trading on Monday, as the shares of companies like CyrusOne and Coresite were bid up by about 6 percent as folks on on Wall Street wondered whether we might see additional acquisitions, perhaps with financial players coming in and buying some of these remaining firms and taking them private.

What’s coming next? It’s too early to say, but we’ll be keeping an eye on all of the happenings in the industry at Data Center Frontier. If you want to stay informed,  subscribe to our newsletter which will share all of our latest headlines and insights with you, and follow us on LinkedIn.

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