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Stirling Square Capital Partners sells Metroweb to F2i

May 2011

Market diversification and excellent service quality have driven consistent growth and profitability

LONDON, 31 May, 2011 – Stirling Square Capital Partners (“Stirling Square”), the pan-European private equity firm, today announces that it has signed an agreement to sell its majority interest in Metroweb S.p.A. (“Metroweb” or the “Company”), the owner and manager of the fibre-optic network extending across the metropolitan area of Milan, to F2i, a leading Italian infrastructure fund.

Stirling Square acquired its stake in Metroweb in October 2006 from A2A S.p.A. (“A2A”) (Milan Bourse: A2), which retained a minority interest in the Company. Since then Stirling Square has worked closely with A2A and supported the management team in the delivery of Metroweb’s development plans. Under Stirling Square control, annual revenues and EBITDA have grown 25% and 50% respectively.

Metroweb provides dark fibre connectivity to telecoms operators, corporations, governmental institutions and digital and multimedia distributors. The Metroweb network covers a territory with more than 2.7 million inhabitants and consists of 7,254 km of cables, corresponding to approximately 324,000 km of fibre and 3,272 km of infrastructure and connections to business and residential sites.

Established in 1997 and headquartered in Milan, Italy, Metroweb owns, maintains and manages one of the largest metropolitan access fibre-optic networks in Europe. The management team is led by Chief Executive Officer Alberto Trondoli, a founder of the Company, and Moreno Grassi, Chief Operating Officer, who has been instrumental in developing the Company more recently. Shortly after Stirling Square invested in the Company in 2006, the management team was strengthened with the appointment of Mirko Prato as Chief Financial Officer.

Following Stirling Square’s acquisition, significant capital investment has increased the size of the network, moved access from the curb to the building (the ‘last mile’) and improved service quality. Milan now has the highest broadband penetration rates in Italy with 108,000 businesses (58%) and 342,000 residences (52%) accessing the network. As a result, the metropolitan area of Milan has the infrastructure in place to meet its broadband needs for the foreseeable future. With the phase out of Milan’s copper network targeted to begin before EXPO 2015, broadband access will be primarily supported by Metroweb’s fibre-optic network from then on.

Stefano Bonfiglio, a Partner at Stirling Square, said: “We are proud to have established Metroweb as an independent fibre infrastructure provider, delivering best-in-class technologies and services to its customers. The Company has grown to a position of strength over the past five years, which is testament to the dedication of the management team and to Stirling Square’s value creation drive.

Metroweb is highly representative of our core investment strategy which is to target companies with unique capabilities and long-term defensible market positions that offer potential for transformational change. Our gratitude goes to everyone we have worked with at Metroweb over the past few years; we wish them the very best for their future success.”

Alberto Trondoli, CEO of Metroweb, said: “Stirling Square has provided consistent and valuable support throughout their period of ownership. We have been able to invest in the network and diversify our product offering and customer base, improve coverage and service quality, and thereby position the Company for future success. I look forward to working with F2i to build upon the achievements of the past five years.”


Advisers to Stirling Square Capital Partners:
Financial: Lazard & Co. and Black Rhino Capital
Legal: Pavia e Ansaldo

Vendor Due Diligence Providers:
Legal: Pavia e Ansaldo
Accounting: PwC
Tax: Studio Colacicco

- ENDS -

Notes to Editors:

Metroweb
Metroweb owns and manages a capillary fibre-optic infrastructure network extending across the metropolitan area of Milan which is utilised by telecoms operators, large corporations and governmental institutions to deliver broadband services to their end users and customers. www.metroweb.it

Stirling Square Capital Partners
Stirling Square Capital Partners is one of Europe’s leading private equity firms, investing across Europe in mid-market companies with enterprise values between €50m and €500m. Since inception in September 2002, Stirling Square has made a total of fifteen mid-market acquisitions, investing in eleven portfolio companies and making four significant bolt-on acquisitions. Stirling Square has an established position in complex, cross-border buy-out transactions. www.stirlingsquare.com

F2i
F2i stands for Fondi Italiani per le Infrastrutture (or Funds for Italian Infrastructure). F2i SGR SpA was established in January 2007 and is the fund management company that set up the largest Italian closed-end investment fund dedicated to investments in the infrastructure sector. The investment policy of F2i aims to create a diversified portfolio including companies active in all infrastructure sectors, predominantly in Italy. www.f2isgr.it

For further information contact:

Alex Shepherd, Financial Dynamics
Tel: + (44) 20 7269 7120
Email: alex.shepherd@fd.com