The UK's largest data centre is being built by a new
fund that is domiciled and administered in Guernsey and listed
on the Channel Islands Stock Exchange (CISX).
The PFB Data Centre Fund has been set up to focus on the
specialist property sector and has entered into a joint venture
with a German-based developer e-shelter to build a data centre
facility on a 50 acre site at Saunderton, near High Wycombe in
Buckinghamshire. The development should rank as the
second-largest data centre facility in Europe.
The fund has been established as a Guernsey registered
closed ended investment company and is listed on the CISX. It
is managed by Pinder Fry & Benjamin in the UK and
International Administration Guernsey (IAG) has been appointed
as the administrator. The legal advisers are Macfarlanes in the
UK and Carey Olsen in Guernsey.
The development has already gained notable publicity through
a recent article in the Financial Times.
"This is a prime example of how Guernsey can provide a
one-stop shop for funds," said Peter Niven, Chief
Executive of GuernseyFinance the promotional agency for the
Island's finance industry.
"The Island has a registered fund regime that provides
a fast-track process for regulatory consent, legal and
administration capability with experience and expertise of the
broadest range of asset classes and also a local stock exchange
offering primary and secondary listings in a pragmatic
environment. It is this offering which enables Guernsey to
continue to punch above its weight as a leading funds
Alison Simpson, Chief Executive of IAG, who is on the
fund's board, said: "We are extremely delighted to
have been appointed as administrators to this fund which has
gained significant media coverage for investing in what is a
specialist but potentially very rewarding market.
"At IAG we pride ourselves on delivering a personal
service and this mandate shows that the team is more than
capable of delivering for the complete range of funds,
including those that have public profile and are particularly
The PFB Data Centre Fund aims for the development at
Saunderton to tackle the bottleneck in modern data centre
A shortage of data warehousing has followed the failure of
many former data centre operators, which were wiped out
following the dotcom bust eight years ago. An expansion in the
supply of data centres has also been limited because the cost
of developing the properties is high and their stringent
locational and energy supply demands.
At the same time there has been an explosion of online
consumer spending, data-rich online applications, such as video
and peer-to-peer file sharing and tougher regulation on
financial services groups' retention of data. All of
these factors have boosted demand.
The fund has agreed to finance the acquisition and
development of the Saunderton site. This is the first
investment for the fund and it is in discussions with e-shelter
about further opportunities in the UK and on the Continent.
The Saunderton site is being acquired from Molins, the
tobacco machinery manufacturer, for £17.5m. Once the site
has been developed and the data centres have been fitted out,
its gross value could be approximately £1bn.
The fund aims to raise between £100m and £200m
of equity, through a number of share offers, by the end of
2009. The second share offer closes at the end of June. The
fund will have a life of five to seven or more years and the
manager anticipates returns, based on various assumptions, of
17% to 19% a year.
Ben Morgan, Partner at Carey Olsen, said: "The team
here at Carey Olsen has extensive experience and expertise in
structuring funds varying from the traditional to alternatives
such as funds of funds, private equity and property.
Increasingly we are seeing the specialist closed ended funds
taking advantage of the new fast-track process for gaining
regulatory consent that is available to them. The PFB Data
Centre Fund is a particularly interesting example of the sort
of funds coming to the Island."
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