July 31, 2020

Willkie represents Bouygues Telecom on Project Astérix and Project Saint-Malo in France.

Willkie has advised French mobile operator Bouygues Telecom on the structuring, tender, development and non-recourse financing of two major fiber projects: Project Astérix and Project Saint-Malo. 

Both projects are intended to adapt Bouygues Telecom’s infrastructure and operating model, in anticipation of 5G as well as growing bandwidth and storage needs for the next decade by providing a backbone fiber broadband network and securing competitive, efficient and reliable access to Fiber to the Home (FTTH), Fiber to the Office (FTTO) and Fiber To The Antenna (FTTA) lines in France.

To ensure the projects are implemented under the best contractual, technical and financial conditions and at the end of highly competitive tender processes, Bouygues Telecom selected a partner for each project: Cellnex Telecom for Project Saint Malo and Vauban Infrastructure Partners for Project Astérix.

Project Astérix and Project Saint-Malo represent an approximately €2.5 billion investment in aggregate and have required from our team the drafting and negotiation of innovative and state-of-the-art industrial and financial contracts.

Willkie is proud to have participated in bringing these two highly strategic projects to fruition with Bouygues Telecom’s committed and talented team, in collaboration with BDGS Associates (corporate legal advisors of Bouygues Telecom), Goldman Sachs and Rothschild (financial advisors of Bouygues Telecom).

Project Saint-Malo (Nexloop): Bouygues Telecom was joined by Cellnex Telecom for the rollout of a €1.2 billion fiber network across France. Bouygues Telecom and Cellnex respectively hold a 49% and a 51% stake in Nexloop, which has started to build and own a 31,500km fiber broadband network and 90 data processing centers. Bouygues Telecom has entered into a 30-year contract with Nexloop to use 70% of the new fiber network’s capacity to provide broadband to its customers, the remaining 30% being marketed to third-party operators.

Project Saint-Malo closed at the end of May 2020 and was successfully syndicated.

Project Astérix (SDAIF): Bouygues Telecom has formed a joint venture with Vauban Infrastructure Partners, who became the majority shareholder, for a €1.2 billion FTTH partnership. The company will hold the “IRU” rights in relation to Orange’s FTTH network in medium-density population areas in France (representing around 2 million FTTH connections). The company will then lease back access to Bouygues Telecom through a 30-year access agreement and to other retail broadband operators.

Project Astérix closed and was successfully syndicated in July 2020.

The Willkie deal team was led by partner Amir Jahanguiri and included associate Antoine Bouzanquet.