STF Mag article: Introducing APTProcure
Creation of the new investment firm focused on digital infrastructure
As published in the March issue of SubTel Forum magazine
By Sean Bergin
March 25, 2022
APTelecom today announced the creation of a new investment arm focused on digital infrastructure, called APT Procure. This entity is at the origin of APTelecom, which has been operating in the United States and Asia for more than 15 years. Among the company’s core offerings are due diligence, fiber sales, data center and strategic advisory services.
In 2016, APTelecom founded Stratanet Group LLC focusing on subsea capacity arbitrage. Subsequent investments were made in Thailand-based LXT Networks in 2018 and Singapore-based VergeDI in 2020. The APTProcure team is looking to leverage these existing investments.
active in a venture capital arm to identify and provide seed capital for “under the radar”
opportunities hyper-focused on undersea cables and adjacent services, such as edge data centers.
APTProcure focuses on companies that are in pre-income, early-income or Series A. APTProcure’s investment strategy is to place our investment alongside that of a consortium of co-investors that we are developing currently. The APTProcure team and associated APTelecom companies have decades of experience in the field of digital infrastructure. This expertise will be applied to the portfolio company in the form of sales support, operational support and business planning to support and accelerate the growth of the portfolio company.
APTelecom anchors the team’s initial investment placements. “As one of the world’s most recognized consultants in the industry 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 step in on the ground floor of projects we believe in is an opportunity we should take advantage of,” said Eric Handa, CEO from APTelecom. “We are in a unique position to leverage our global knowledge, relationships, trust and expertise of our leadership team to find and invest in the best emerging companies that are driving the digital future.”
APTProcure believes it is at the forefront of a one-of-a-kind market opportunity that will deliver attractive returns to investors. Leveraging APTelecom’s deep commitment to the digital infrastructure segment, significant in-house expertise and capabilities, and extensive access to start-ups puts the team in a unique position. “We are regularly approached by organizations looking to formulate and develop infrastructure projects, usually at the initial idea stage. We have what one might say, a unique ‘mirror’ of what is planned to come to fruition, years before the actual rollout,” Handa said.
APTProcure sits at the intersection of the two investment megatrends of our time – the massive opportunity and innovation needed to address the digital infrastructure market such as edge data center development and associated connectivity, coupled with the ever-increasing demand from individual and institutional investors to look beyond the public markets where there is an opportunity to invest in seed investments.
Telecom and digital infrastructures are central to the convergence of all Sectors. Technology companies continue to dominate and actively continue to invest in their expansion to enable digital transformation with consumers, small and large businesses. Telcom-class assets have a direct link to existing customer bases and have the ability to ride that wave.
APTProcure’s recent investment in Verge Digital Infrastructure (Verge DI) is a prime example of considering key investment metrics in the context of emerging market opportunities in Southeast Asia, coupled with the growing trend to establish a cutting-edge presence and foothold in Tier 2 underserved cities within the Region. Along with this, Verge DI also has a strategy of building submarine cable landing stations, further improving the value proposition and maximizing revenue.
With the continued trend toward 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 Thailand-based licensed infrastructure company, with the goal of providing a “digital bridge” between the west and east coasts of the Southern Peninsula. This project, named “Saphan”, was created to meet the growing need for diversity away from Singapore in terms of submarine cable landings and also to take advantage of Thailand’s strategic geography which borders Malaysia, the Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia. This investment became the springboard for much larger play in the region and supported the creation of Verge DI, which is now set to deploy over 10 open access edge data centers and cable landing stations in Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam.
With development round funding, it was able to complete final surveys, permits, and other activities before the scheduled start of construction in the second quarter of 2022.
APTProcure is all about capitalizing and reviving underserved markets, rather than a “me too” strategy. Verge DI’s strategy, for example, focuses on identifying strategically positioned second-tier locations, traditionally underserved by global data center players, with the goal of offering a standardized solution across the region. These locations are characterized by proximity to dense populations outside major cities with an ability to become hyper-connected with access to multiple international connectivity options, including undersea cables; coupled with geographic separation to make it a logical secondary market within a country for customers needing a high level of diversity and resilience in their network.
The locations where Verge deploys its assets will benefit from computing and connectivity resources extending from current connectivity hubs and closer to the edge supporting the growth of educational, medical, research and banking ecosystems in those geographies. Not surprisingly, with a network of open-access, enterprise-grade edge facilities deployed in regional cities across Southeast Asia, cloud and content providers are also embracing this first step to the edge on new markets, supporting their goal of getting closer to the eyeballs of their consumers in a repeatable way. This ticks all the boxes in terms of APTProcure’s investment strategy
APTProcure is currently evaluating other markets to identify and deploy capital to replicate the current success of its investment in Southeast Asia. Current market opportunities for seed capital deployment are sought in LATAM and Africa.
Sean Bergin is co-founder and president of APTelecom. Sean helped grow APTelecom into a globally recognized leader in telecom consulting and due diligence, growing from a start-up company to an award-winning global organization that has generated over $400 million in sales for its clients.
Sean has significant national and international management experience with Telstra & BT. Bergin also served as sales manager for Australia Japan Cable, an international wholesale submarine cable system linking Australia and Japan.
Sean is also President and Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Pacific Telecommunications Council (PTC) and is a frequent speaker and panelist in the ICT sector.
Sean has worked and resided in Southeast Asia for over 20 years.