June 20, 2018 / 10:25 AM / 25 days ago

Billionaire Fredriksen invests in Norway data centre, transatlantic cable

OSLO, June 20 (Reuters) - Billionaire investor John Fredriksen has agreed to buy a stake in Bulk Infrastructure AS, which plans to build a large data centre in his native Norway as well as a transatlantic fiber-optic cable, the company said on Wednesday.

Fredriksen's Geveran Trading and Bulk's founder and chief executive Peder Naerboe jointly committed to invest 400 million Norwegian crowns ($49 million), it added.

Fredriksen's business empire includes the world's largest salmon farmer Marine Harvest, offshore drilling firm Seadrill and oil tanker company Frontline, among others.

Naerboe said he would retain a majority stake following a share issue of between 400 million and 550 million crowns, but declined to say how much Fredriksen had agreed to invest.

Bulk Infrastructure plans to increase by tenfold the size of its current data centre in Kristiansand in southern Norway to a capacity of around 2,000 megawatts (MW) of power consumption, to provide services to large customers including oil and gas firms.

It also plans to connect the data centre with Denmark, Ireland and the United States as part of a transatlantic subsea cable project, Havfrue, jointly developed by Bulk, Alphabet's Google, Facebook and Aquacomms, which is expected to be completed by the end of 2019.

"The goal is to use Norway's huge surplus of renewable energy to power data centres to process large volumes of data, including for the oil and gas industry," Naerboe told Reuters.

Oil and gas production accounts for about 40 percent of the Nordic country's exports, and its largest firm Equinor - formerly known as Statoil - is seeking to digitalise its offshore installations to increase efficiency.

Separately on Wednesday, Microsoft announced plans to build two new data centres in Norway, as part of an agreement with Equinor to provide cloud services to the oil and gas firm.

$1 = 8.1942 Norwegian crowns Editing by Terje Solsvik and Mark Potter

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