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How Data Center Operators Secure Billions In Fast Cash

Data center operators who need development cash fast are increasingly issuing securities when revenue can’t keep up with growth.

RagingWire CA3 Data Center in Sacramento, California

Flexential announced last week that the company raised $2.1B through a securitization offering — effectively a bond issuance. This was the largest asset-backed securities issuance in the history of the data center industry, the company claims.

But while it may be the largest, Flexential is just one of a number of private data center firms to issue similar securities in recent weeks as operators look for new ways to fund development and keep up with the ever-increasing demand for data processing and storage.

“Securitization is becoming a trend as others [data center operators] including Aligned Data Centers, DataBank, and Vantage Data Centers, have all raised capital via similar securitizations,” DataBank Senior Director of Interconnection Product Strategy Christian Koch wrote on his Foundations blog. 

The debt issued by Charlotte-based Flexential is backed by 23 of the company’s facilities across 14 markets in the U.S., accounting for more than 1.28M SF of combined data center space, according to Foundations. Newmark Knight Frank appraised the portfolio at $2.7B. 

This kind of debt offering is a relatively new phenomenon for the data center industry, but recent weeks have seen a wave of similar securities issuances. In the past two months, Vantage and Databank raised a combined $563M through separate securities issuances. Aligned Energy raised $1.35B by issuing debt in August. 

Data center firms turning to securities have generally not been coy about their motivation: funding development that wouldn’t be possible with existing revenue. DataBank’s offering last month was explicitly to finance development and expansion in Salt Lake City, Denver, Virginia and New York, while Flexential’s press release says the debt was to “support rapid growth and development.”

“The offering dramatically improves the company's investment grade credit profile, lowers the cost of capital, and allows Flexential to deploy greater data center capacity to meet accelerating demands in new and existing markets,” the company said in a written statement.

Flexential’s offering also reflects another financing trend across the data center space — so-called sustainable securities linked to the company’s ability to meet environmental goals.  

$1.6B of Flexential’s $2.1B offering requires that facilities built with the funds meet certain power and water usage benchmarks that the company is collectively calling its Green Finance Framework.

“The level of detail contained within our new Green Finance Framework will ensure discipline in this strategy and our sustainability performance,” said Garth Williams, Flexential’s Chief Financial Officer. "We will look to achieve this through energy- and water-efficient cooling, cleaner power systems, and renewable energy options.”

Much of Aligned Energy’s $1.3B securities issuance in August was similarly linked to the company’s ability to meet sustainability targets. In the past year, a handful of other data center or telecom companies — including data center giants Digital Realty and NTT — have also raised funds or converted debt to structures tied to sustainability and ESG goals.