Establishing the New Digital Infrastructure-Focused Investment Venture
As published in the March Issue of SubTel Forum Magazine
By Sean Bergin
March 25, 2022
APTelecom today announced the establishment of a new digital infrastructure-focused investment arm, called APT Procure. This entity is the genesis of APTelecom, which has been operating in US & Asia for over 15 years. Among the company’s core offerings are due diligence, fiber sales, data center and strategic consulting services.
In 2016, APTelecom founded Stratanet Group LLC focusing on subsea capacity arbitrage. Subsequent investements were made into Thai-based LXT Networks in 2018 and Singapore-based VergeDI in 2020. The team at APTProcure seeks to parlay these existing investments
assets into a ventures arm to identify and provide seed capital for “under the radar”
opportunities hyper-focused on subsea cable and adjacent services, such as edge data centres.
APTProcure is focusing on companies that are pre-revenue, early revenue or Series A. APTProcure’s investment strategy is to place our investment alongside that of a consortium of co-investors we are currently developing. The APTProcure team and associated APTelecom companies have decades of experience in the digital infrastructure space. That expertise will be applied to the portfolio company in the form of sales support, operational support, and business planning to support and accelerate portfolio company’s growth.
APTelecom is anchoring the team's initial investment placements. “As one of the world's most recognized consultants in the sector in which we operate, it makes perfect sense for us to take this next step. Clients typically engage us at a very early stage of any infrastructure project, so the opportunity to get in on the ground floor of projects we believe in, is an opportunity we should take advantage of” said Eric Handa, Chief Executive Officer, APTelecom. “We are in a unique position to leverage our global knowledge, relationships, trust, and the expertise of our leadership team to source and invest in best-in-class up-and-coming companies driving the digital future.”
APTProcure believe they are on the front-end of a once-in-a-generation market opportunity that will provide attractive returns for investors. Harnessing APTelecom’s deep commitment to the digital infrastructure segment, significant in-house expertise, and capabilities, along with extensive access to early-stage companies places the team in a unique position. “We are approached on a regular basis by organizations looking to formulate and develop infrastructure projects, usually at the inception stage of the idea. We have what one might say, a unique ‘looking glass’ into what is planned to come into fruition, years ahead of actual deployment” said Handa.
APTProcure sits at the intersection of the two investing megatrends of our times – the massive opportunity and innovation required to address the digital infrastructure market such as edge data centre development and associated connectivity, coupled with the ever-increasing demand from both individual and institutional investors to look beyond public markets where the opportunity to invest in seed round placements exist.
Telecom and digital infrastructure is at the center of convergence for all Sectors. Technology companies continue to dominate and actively continue to invest in their expansion to enable digital transformation with Consumers, Small and Large Enterprise. Telcom class assets have direct connection with existing customer bases and have an opportunity to ride this wave.
APTProcure’s recent investment in Verge Digital Infrastructure (Verge DI) is a great example of addressing key investment metrics in the context of emerging market opportunities in Southeast Asia, coupled with the growing trend to establish an edge presence and foothold in underserved tier two cities within the region. Coupled with this, Verge DI also has a strategy to construct submarine cable landing stations, further enhancing the value proposition, and maximizing revenues.
With the continual trend towards convergence, APTProcure’s strategy is to position itself to capitalize on the growing interdependence between technology and infrastructure.
APTProcure’s initial move into this segment began with our investment in LXT Networks, a licensed Thai based infrastructure company, with the aim of providing a ‘digital bridge’ between the west and east coasts of the southern peninsular. This project, code named ‘Saphan’ was established to support the growing need for diversity away from Singapore regarding submarine cable landings and to also take advantage of Thailand’s strategic geography which borders Malaysia, Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia. This investment has become the springboard for a much larger play within the region and underpinned the establishment of Verge DI, which is now set to roll out in excess of 10 open access edge data centres and cable landing stations across Thailand, Indonesia, & Vietnam.
With the Development Round funding it has been able to complete the final surveys, permits and other activities prior the scheduled start of construction in Q2 2022.
APTProcure is all about capitalizing and kickstarting underserved markets, rather than a ‘me too’ strategy. Verge DI’s strategy for example, is focussed on identifying strategically positioned, second tier locations traditionally underserved by the global data centre players with the aim of offering a standardised solution across the region. These locations are characterised by proximity to dense populations outside the major cities with an ability to become hyper-connected with access to multiple international connectivity options including submarine cables; coupled with geographic separation for it to be a logical secondary market in a country for customers needing a high level of diversity and resilience in their network.
The locations where Verge is deploying its assets will benefit from computing and connectivity resources extending from the current connectivity hubs and moving closer to the edge supporting the growth of education, medical, research and banking ecosystems in these geographies. Unsurprisingly, with a network of open access, enterprise grade, edge facilities being deployed in regional cities across South-East Asia the cloud and content providers are also embracing this first step toward the edge in new markets, supporting their goal to get closer to the eyeballs of their consumers in a replicable way. This ticks all the boxes in terms of APTProcure’s investment strategy
APTProcure is currently assessing other markets to identify and deploy capital to replicate the success currently being experienced through its investment in Southeast Asia. Current market opportunities for the deployment of seed capital is being sought in LATAM and Africa.
Sean Bergin is Co-Founder and President of APTelecom. Sean has been instrumental in building APTelecom into a globally recognized leader in telecom and due diligence consulting, elevating from a start-up business to an award-winning global organization which has generated over US $400 million in sales for clients.
Sean has significant management experience at both national and international levels at Telstra & BT. Bergin has also served as Director of Sales for Australia Japan Cable, an international wholesale submarine cable system linking Australia and Japan.
Sean is also the President & Chair of the Board of Governors for Pacific Telecommunications Council (PTC) and is a frequent speaker and panelist within the ICT sector.
Sean has worked and resided in SE Asia for more than 20 years.