Month: June 2021

The DigitalBridge Coming Out Party

June 22, 2021

This is a big week for Analyst Days – with DigitalBridge on June 22nd (the day of its official rebranding) and Equinix (EQIX) on June 23rd.  Both will be important days for each as they both represent companies in significant transition right now.

For EQIX, this will be the first analyst day in three years and a lot of eyes will be watching.  As they do at all their analyst meetings (that typically occur every other year – COVID put a curveball in this schedule), EQIX is expected to put out longer term guidance (both revenue and AFFO / share growth).  In these past three years much has changed: Digital Realty (through the purchase of Interxion) has more than beefed up its interconnection capabilities and assets; QTS will be going private backed by the deep pocketed Blackstone; and EQIX itself has transformed its own stripes bringing in much more hyperscale capabilities through xScale and an edge play through the purchase of Packet.

And – true to form – EQIX is not sitting still during this period of transition.  On June 14th, GIC and EQIX added another $3.9B to expand the xScale Data Center Program.   The xScale portfolio of 32 facilities will provide more than 600 megawatts (MW) of capacity once fully built out.  In a recent Forbes article, EQIX’s CTO, Milind Wagle, was quoted as saying that Equinix is the “engine room of the digital economy.”  We agree completely. But the question becomes are their customers looking with a careful eye closely at the interworkings  of the engine room and does that engine room still have a thick moat around it as it did three years back?

For DigitalBridge (formerly known as Colony Capital as of Tuesday), we almost think of June 22nd as their coming out party in many ways.  Following its recent OED sale, DigitalBridge’s assets are now 80 percent in the digital infrastructure  space.  The only non-digital assets are Wellness Infrastructure and its public stake in CLNC.  DigitalBridge has a significant opportunity which few in the space has right now.  Why?  Because Ganzi and team have their hands in more parts of the digital infrastructure space than anyone.  These include (but are not limited to): small cell (ExteNet); fiber (ZAYO); data centers (Vantage and DataBank); land under the towers (Landmark); and towers (Vertical Bridge).  Importantly, the reach of some of these assets are not only US based.

If DigitalBridge can find a way to communicate how all these ‘children’ can play together  in the 5G infrastructure ‘sandbox’, that will be a message unique to DigitalBridge, given that others lack this breath and depth of asset mix.   Our guess is if any one can communicate that message it is Marc Ganzi! We will be watching!

D9 Infrastructure raises £175 million for potential digital infrastructure acquisitions

Source: Data Center Dynamics

Company looking to acquires data centers, fiber, and subsea cable over next 12 months

UK investment trust D9 Infrastructure has raised £175 million ($246.7 million) to boost its acquisition ambitions.

In May the company said it was offering a placing of new ordinary shares and aiming to raise £100 million ($141 million). This week the company said the fundraise was over-subscribed, and the company had raised a total of £175 million. The company plans to use the money to acquire more digital assets.

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“We are delighted with how this fundraise has performed. To see such significant support from both existing shareholders and new investors highlights the strength of the investment opportunity in digital infrastructure and reaffirms the Company’s investment strategy,” said Jack Waters, Chair of Digital 9 Infrastructure. “Coming a relatively short time after our initial IPO, it is reassuring to see such a positive reaction from the market.”

D9 raised £300 million ($422.9 million) on its IPO at the end of March this year, and shortly afterwards the company acquired subsea cable owner Aqua Comms for £160 million ($215 million).

Aqua Comms owns and operates two transatlantic cables, AEC-1 and AEC-2, plus CeltixConnect-1.

D9’s investment manager is Triple Point Investment Management LLP, which has said it sees potential to close £600 million ($845.8 million) of opportunities within the next 12 months.

The company is looking to acquire a number of data centers in the US, UK, and northern Europe, as well as UK terrestrial fiber platforms, a UK wireless infrastructure business reported to be small-cell provider Ontix, and make further investments in subsea fiber.

Triple Point has also reportedly identified some £2 billion ($2.82 billion) in proprietary development and operational investment opportunities.

QTS Realty Trust to Be Acquired by Blackstone Funds in $10 Billion Transaction

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. and NEW YORKJune 7, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — QTS Realty Trust (NYSE: QTS) (“QTS” or “the Company”) and Blackstone (NYSE: BX), today announced that they have entered into a definitive agreement under which Blackstone Infrastructure Partners, Blackstone Real Estate Income Trust, Inc. and other long-term perpetual capital vehicles managed by Blackstone will acquire all outstanding shares of common stock of QTS Realty Trust for $78.00 per share in an all-cash transaction valued at approximately $10 billion1, including the assumption of debt. The purchase price represents a premium of 21% to QTS’ closing share price as of June 4, 2021 and a 24% premium to the volume weighted average share price over the last 90 days. The transaction was unanimously approved by the QTS Board of Directors and is expected to close in the second half of 2021.

Blackstone’s interest in acquiring QTS and its commitment to investing in its platform is a testament to the QTS team’s success in building a leading data center company. Blackstone’s expertise, resources and consistent access to capital will support QTS’ growth and help expand the reach of its data center solutions supporting new and existing customers. Upon completion of the transaction, the parties expect that QTS will continue to be led by its senior management team and maintain its corporate headquarters in Overland Park, Kansas.

“We are pleased to enter into this transaction with Blackstone, as it will deliver compelling, immediate and certain value to stockholders while positioning QTS to continue supporting customers’ expanding data center infrastructure needs,” said Philip Trahanas, Lead Director of the QTS Board of Directors. “The QTS Board regularly reviews the Company’s strategy and market opportunities to maximize stockholder value, and we are confident this transaction achieves that objective.”

“QTS is powered by its people and continues to set a new standard for service delivery in the data center industry,” said Chad Williams, Chairman and CEO of QTS. “We see a significant market opportunity for growth as hyperscale customers and enterprises continue to leverage our world-class infrastructure to support their digital transformation initiatives. We are confident this transaction is the right step to achieve our strategic objectives in our next phase of growth. I want to thank each of our QTS employees for their continued dedication to a culture of service to others, which has positioned QTS to enter into this transformative transaction.”

“We are delighted to back QTS and its world-class management team as they continue to scale the company to meet the rising demand for data centers. QTS aligns with one of Blackstone’s highest conviction themes – data proliferation – and the required investment makes it well suited as a long-term holding for our perpetual capital vehicles. We are committed to a strong, lasting partnership, leveraging Blackstone’s scale, reach, resources and access to capital to drive long-term growth at QTS,” said Greg Blank, Senior Managing Director, Blackstone Infrastructure Partners.

“We are focused on investing in assets that are benefitting from strong, secular tailwinds, such as the rapid digitalization of data. QTS is a leading provider of data center solutions with a portfolio of high-quality assets in desirable markets, positioning it well to capitalize on these powerful trends in the data center space. We believe the vast expertise across our business will enable the QTS platform to succeed over the long-term,” said Tyler Henritze, Head of Acquisitions Americas for Blackstone Real Estate.

Transaction Terms, Timing and Approvals

The definitive merger agreement includes a 40-day “go-shop” period that will expire on July 17, 2021, subject to extension under certain circumstances, which permits QTS and its representatives to actively solicit and consider alternative acquisition proposals. QTS has the right to terminate the definitive merger agreement with Blackstone to enter into a superior proposal subject to certain terms and conditions of the definitive merger agreement. There can be no assurance that this process will result in a superior proposal, and QTS does not intend to disclose developments with respect to the go-shop process unless and until it determines such disclosure is appropriate or is otherwise required.

The transaction with Blackstone is expected to close in the second half of 2021, subject to approval by QTS’ stockholders and the satisfaction of other customary closing conditions.

Subject to and upon completion of the transaction, QTS’ common stock will no longer be listed on the New York Stock Exchange. QTS will be jointly owned by Blackstone Infrastructure Partners and Blackstone Real Estate Income Trust (“BREIT”).

Advisors
Jefferies LLC and Morgan Stanley & Co. LLC are acting as financial advisors to QTS, and Hogan Lovells US LLP and Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP are acting as legal counsel to QTS. Citigroup Global Markets Inc., Barclays, Deutsche Bank Securities Inc., Goldman Sachs & Co. LLC and J.P. Morgan Securities LLC are acting as financial advisors to Blackstone, and Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP is acting as its legal counsel.

About QTS
QTS Realty Trust, Inc. (NYSE: QTS) is a leading provider of data center solutions across a diverse footprint spanning more than 7 million square feet of owned mega scale data center space within North America and Europe. Through its software-defined technology platform, QTS is able to deliver secure, compliant infrastructure solutions, robust connectivity and premium customer service to leading hyperscale technology companies, enterprises, and government entities. Visit QTS at www.qtsdatacenters.com, call toll-free 877.QTS.DATA or follow on Twitter @DataCenters_QTS.

About Blackstone 
Blackstone is one of the world’s leading investment firms. We seek to create positive economic impact and long-term value for our investors, the companies we invest in, and the communities in which we work. We do this by using extraordinary people and flexible capital to help companies solve problems. Our $649 billion in assets under management include investment vehicles focused on private equity, real estate, public debt and equity, life sciences, growth equity, opportunistic, non-investment grade credit, real assets and secondary funds, all on a global basis. Further information is available at www.blackstone.com. Follow Blackstone on Twitter @Blackstone.

V2X – A new driver of digital infrastructure investment

June 8, 2021

The idea of connecting vehicles to each other (V2V) and to other things (V2X) has been around for a while – in fact, this was one of the first IOT use cases way-back-when.  Since then, little appears to have happened – while many cars have modems for 4G LTE/WiFi access and apps on the screen, etc, vehicles still do not connect to each other or to roadside furniture, signs, control signals etc.

But there are now signs that things are starting to change and that V2X could be the big driver of digital infrastructure investment – after all, if vehicles are going to communicate with assets at the side of the road, those assets are going to have to be connected.  That means fiber, edge compute, radios and towers to connect signs, stop lights, bridges, roads, etc to data centers and applications.  In short, V2X means a whole range of infrastructure at the side of the road, as well as new communications capabilities in the vehicle itself.

The term “connected vehicle” is used to describe vehicles that can “speak” to each other, along with roadside infrastructure and other devices (smartphones). There are – or were – two competing connected vehicle technologies. Dedicated Short Range Communications (DSRC) is the older of the two as it’s been around for more than 20 years. The relative newcomer is Cellular Vehicle to Everything (C-V2X) technology.

Both technologies enable basically the same use cases some of which include:

  • Basic safety, signal phase and timing, and information messages
  • Forward collision warning, pre-crash sensing, hard braking warning, emergency vehicle warnings
  • Traffic jam and route information.

The messages are sent or relayed between/among on-board units (OBUs) installed in vehicles and they can be augmented by interaction with roadside units (RSUs).

Note that smartphone technology and various applications already supply some of these use cases, while cameras, ultrasonics, LIDAR, etc., provide some of the vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) functionality without needing any type of wireless networking.

DSRC is also known as 802.11p. It is a standardized, wireless communications technology that allows vehicles to communicate with each other via OBUs RSUs. In the U.S., DSRC equipment operates in the 5.850 to 5.925 GHz band (5.9 GHz band). It is not a cellular technology.

C-V2X is a cellular technology that is defined by the 3GPP in Release 14 of its specifications. C-V2X also operates in the 5.9 GHz band. The 5G Automotive Association (5GAA) does a good job of summarizing what C-V2X is here (https://5gaa.org/5g-technology/c-v2x/).

Both C-V2X and DSRC require OBUs and RSUs and both can be made to interact with the cellular network. Note that those RSUs are basically small cell sites as they will have power, backhaul (fiber) and proximity to vehicles and therefore end users. They will also need edge compute.

DSRC has its own ecosystem of devices and while C-V2X does, as well, those devices and their components are part of the wider cellular ecosystem. And while C-V2X is LTE today, it will eventually migrate to 5G New Radio (NR) just like everything else.

In November 2020, the FCC released a report and order that did two major things:

  • Split the 5.9 GHz band into two pieces: the lower 45 MHz will be for unlicensed use (Wi-Fi) while the upper 30 MHz will be dedicated to C-V2X.
  • Current DSRC devices must migrate to the upper 30 MHz by year-end 2021 and that technology will itself be phased out.

Source:  https://www.fcc.gov/document/fcc-modernizes-59-ghz-band-improve-wi-fi-and-automotive-safety-0

The FCC’s “modernization” of the 5.9 GHz band in that November 2020 report and order remains contentious and could well be over-ruled by the current administration.

There appear to be two warring camps. One side says the entire band should be dedicated to CV technology while the other side says that the upper 30 MHz is sufficient.  Regardless of what happens to how the band is allocated, the C-V2X standard is not the issue – the stake the FCC pounded into DSRC’s heart may well remain untouched and the world will move forward with C-V2X, and all of the associated digital infrastructure needed to enable it.

LUMEN / T-MOBILE – On the Edge of Glory?

As a former analyst, I know that the webcasts which the Street pays the most attention to are the ones where the CFO or CEOs are speaking.  While these are of course very interesting, I often think it may be the ‘under the radar’ executives that may say the most.  Sometimes it are these executives who offer the most commentary about the emerging green shoots of an new revenue streams.    I thought that this week as I listened to the Cowen TMT conference when Lumen’s CMO – Shaun Andrews – was interviewed.

While the transcript is most definitely worth a read, the smoking gun comment to me was in reply to the question:

“When do you really start to see real bookings in edge computing that really start to make a difference?”

The answer: “Now.”

Here is the green shoot…

Mr. Andrews then went on to add:  “We’re going faster with edge computing than anything I can remember in history going with”.   While the cynic may say that Lumen (former CenturyLink) never really went “fast” with anything, so bar is low.  Mr. Andrews himself has over 25 years of experience and was with growth companies of the past, including Level3 and WilTel.    So this statement should not be ignored.

Unlike many of these interviews, Mr. Andrews actually put meat on the bone with specific examples as to edge business models for Lumen.  The most interesting one to me was his commentary about the opportunity with T-Mobile.   He offered tangible models as to how IoT and Fixed Wireless access could represent two significant opportunities of growth for the two companies to work together.  How this relationship grows will be something to watch.

I know I sound like a broken record here – but wireless does most definitely need wires.  If we know one thing about 5G infrastructure, it is that fiber is the connective tissue of this emerging ecosystem.  While T-Mobile has a plethora of spectrum (the full wedding cake of it in low, mid and high-band), it does not have the “wires” (aka fiber and transport) to make this spectrum work most effectively.  Lumen does.  And they have more than anyone, maybe second only to AT&T.  They say a picture is worth 1000 words.   Click here to see the reach of this network:   https://www.lumen.com/en-us/resources/network-maps.html  THIS HIGHLIGHTED PART CAN YOU HYPERLINK IT

These blue lines on this image are significant to T-Mobile and it is hard to find them from anyone else T-Mo does not compete with (ZAYO would be an important exception).  In many ways those lines represent the tracks on which the T-Mo spectrum rich train can ride most effectively. While virtualization and Open RAN are the ways of the wireless future, a large part of the spend to enable this is IN the network itself.  Here is where Lumen comes in.

For Lumen, edge has to be more than just a talking point.  When I was an analyst following Lumen, one of the biggest push backs I got on the name was the higher margin legacy  business was declining at a faster rate than the lower margin “growthier” businesses were growing.  Another knock on it was that the company was continuing to cannibalize its own businesses.   The beauty of edge for Lumen is that there is no cannibalization  – it does not come at the cost of any other revenue line.  Edge represents a greenfield opportunity set. And there are not many of those in telecom land as anyone who has followed the space knows.  The moat around the business is very much there – go back to the image with those blue lines if you need a reminder!

Switching on Advisors to the Digital Infra Opportunity

July 6

In my humble opinion, one of the biggest challenges facing digital infrastructure businesses as well as funds is to find a way to get to talk to advised clients and their advisors. Institutions by and large understand the space as do many sophisticated private investors, especially the very active ones. But advisors tend to lump these digital assets into an alternative box alongside more traditional infrastructure assets and then treat with some suspicion, the suspicion of the ‘new’.

Yet there are signs that is changing and the example of a recently launched UK fund of funds might offer some useful clues as to what advisors might want from the digital infra sector. Gravis is a successful UK based infrastructure house that has also built up a fund of funds business that sells heavily to advisors. Its idea is simple. All these alternative investment ideas structured as funds (or opcos) are difficult to research for most advisors, so you need someone to build an overlay that finds the right funds (and single businesses) and then assembles them together in an income-oriented fund of funds. Over time its existing infrastructure and listed property equities fund have accumulated pretty big sums of money – as have rival offerings from peers – and now its launched what it thinks over time will be its biggest fund ever: a digital infrastructure equities fund of funds which invests in towers, data centres, fibreoptic networks, logistics warehouses. Or as the manager describes them physical structures, which are all tangible, and all have a bit of concrete poured in them, as well as contractual leases, producing high cashflow predictability.

In this universe, they’ve identified around 120 listed, global digital infrastructure companies although it’s interesting to note that within their definition the number of funds and businesses has doubled in terms of numbers over a decade and has increased more than six-fold in terms of aggregate market cap. More specifically Gravis analysis reveals that this universe has increased in market cap terms from £73.5bn in 2010 to £461.3bn in 2020. As for returns, between 2011 and 2020, returns have averaged c.18.9% per annum with volatility of 15.43%. From this growing universe, the Gravis team led by Matthew Norris has identified 29 businesses and funds for the portfolio which is now live and growing steadily in size.

Graphic : The growth of the digital infrastructure universe

Source: Gravis Capital Management, Ltd, 2021

As you’d expect the big sales pitch is one we’re all familiar with – as Norris observes “we’re living in the fourth industrial revolution” but the first key message from this fund is that it includes a very heavy helping of tech-enabled logistics park operators alongside the more expected tower cos and fibre operators.

According to Norris “If you go back in time, especially in the UK, data centres are actually born on logistic parks.  One of the biggest owners, possibly the biggest owner of data centres in Europe is probably property business Segro, and that data centre is on the Slough trading estate. The Slough trading estate gave birth to Segro 100 years ago and then as good fortune would have it, they found themselves close to London as well as a big fibreoptics cable from the Atlantic plus it helps that there’s access to power.” Segro has its own power station.

It is easy to see why logistics park operators will appeal to professional clients. You have classic property-based assets, with long leases and lashings of technology. As a result, the Gravis fund is exposed 45% to logistics businesses with the remainder in classic digital infra: 25% in data centres, 25% in tower cos and 5% in another bucket that includes fibreoptic networks and battery storage.

The next big lesson is that Gravis, like many advisers I’ve talked to, likes tower cos and are overweight exposure to this sector compared to their universe weights. Norris echoes those who’ve called these businesses “the best business ever”.  He likes the fact that the steel towers being put up last 25/50 years, and that according to one of the tower co operator’s maintenance capex on each is just 900 dollars per tower per year – “it’s a great asset, long-life asset”. And there’s also the increasingly obvious densification drive coming out of 5G especially in the US “where you have carrier neutral towers and the mobile network operators go to the tower codes and put their dishes on.  We are likely to see co-tenancy on towers, so competing operators on the same tower- that’s great news for the owner of the tower.

The next useful insight is that the digital infra space needs to be more vocal about its intrinsic valuation strengths as an equity asset class and not run scared of those who argue the sector is overpriced and a bond proxy. On the multiples question, Norris points to businesses that have contractual cashflows, are earning steady money, paying dividends, and increasing those dividends on average between 2 and 3%. Unlike say classic property REITs , which produce higher yields, the digital infrastructure space has very obvious drivers of huge growth “over many, many sequential years, so what you might have to sacrifice in yield you should make up for in terms of dividend growth. “

As for the cacophony of voices that say these assets are bond proxies and will falter as interest rates pick up, Gravis reminds us that these are not in fact anything remotely like fixed-income assets. “We’re talking about growth income here,” observes Norris “and there are two types of growth that you get from owning a data centre and a tower co. One is your contractual rental growth.  And then the second growth element is actually releasing up more space, growing the rental income, by hanging another dish on the same tower.  So, my response would be I hear what you say but this is not fixed income, this is growth income, plus market growth.”

I also sometimes detect another variation on the bond proxy argument which is that although there are obvious growth opportunities, most digital assets do not have explicit inflation protection, unlike say classic public-private partnership infrastructure assets. It’s a fair observation but I’ve always felt it is a misguided one. Sure, there may not always be explicit CPI agreements in place but as Norris reminds us “as long as the income can grow in line or faster than inflation then it’s going to be inflation proofed. With tower cos and data centres their top line should be rising faster than inflation just because of the growth characteristics and their cost base should be rising at or below inflation, you should see some level of operating leverage coming through.  So, I think those two sub-sections will perform very well.”

My own hunch is that these characteristics of the asset class are, in reality, fairly well understood but there’s another risk that is I think less so. Security.

I’ve visited more than my fair share of data centres and towers over the years and the first question I always ask is a security-related one. Cybersecurity tops many lists but in reality, that’s actually more of a risk for the tenant rather than the physical infrastructure owner. But physical security is very much a concern for everyone, especially the real asset owner. And here Norris at Gravis spies an opportunity, rather than a risk.

“I think that creates a barrier to entry, I think that’s why you and I wouldn’t be very successful at setting that kind of business up because you have to have a track record of building very secure, reliable centres. The ones that I’ve visited, especially the ones that have government servers in them, they literally do have those bollards around the centre to prevent terrorist attacks and when you enter the data centre you go in through one of those man trap scales that weigh you on the way in and weighs you on the way out.  So, absolutely, security is an issue but also it creates a competitive advantage.  If you are an established player in the market, you have the reputation. “

This brings us to the last key insight – ESG. I see it topping more and more financial professionals lists of concerns, and not always for the right reasons. ESG has become akin to a gateway drug that encourages all sorts of slightly inchoate concerns, mostly but not always based around energy efficiency.  According to Norris “we have done a lot of research on this and, it’s much more efficient to have servers in a data centre, in a bespoke environment. Here at Gravis, we still have a server in the corner of our kitchen.  That’s bonkers.  That’s not the right environment to have it, so we waste energy cooling that server in the corner of a kitchen.  If all businesses like ours put their servers into dedicated data centres, less power would be used…..  I think there’s more work to be done proving the point that the place for your server is a data centre because you’ll use less energy”.

This I think is a key message. Rather than focus all the attention on digital infrastructure operators own ESG policies – important though they are – also try and remind investors of their own obligations, their own inefficiencies that make the problem much worse!

Neuberger Berman Next Generation Connectivity Fund Announces $1.5 Billion Initial Public Offering

Source: PR Newswire

NEW YORKMay 26, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Neuberger Berman Next Generation Connectivity Fund Inc. (the “Fund”), a newly organized closed-end fund, announced today the initial public offering of its shares of common stock. The Fund began trading today on the NYSE under the symbol “NBXG.” The Fund has raised $1.5 billion in proceeds, agreeing to sell 75,000,000 shares of common stock at a price of $20.00 per share.  In addition, the Fund has granted the underwriters an option to purchase up to 10,766,733 additional shares of common stock at the public offering price. If the underwriters exercise their option to buy additional shares in full, which may or may not occur, the Fund will have raised approximately $1.715 billion.  The offering is expected to close on May 28, 2021, subject to customary closing conditions.

“We believe the development and deployment of the digital infrastructure that will serve as the backbone for new technologies presents an enormous investment opportunity. The fifth generation (5G) and future generations of mobile networks , and their unique ability to enable device-to-device communication, has the potential to unlock tremendous commercial opportunities, including the expanding use of autonomous vehicles, increasing the productivity and automation of factories, and improving connected health care, such as remote care and surgery,” said Hari Ramanan, CIO, Neuberger Berman Research Funds, and one of the Fund’s portfolio managers.

In pursuit of its investment objectives of capital appreciation and income, the Fund will invest, under normal market conditions, at least 80% of its total assets in equity securities issued by U.S. and non-U.S. companies, in any market capitalization range, that are relevant to the theme of investing in “NextGen Companies.” The Fund considers “NextGen Companies” to be companies that, in its adviser’s view, demonstrate significant growth potential from the development, advancement, use or sale of products, processes or services related to the fifth generation (5G) mobile network and future generations of mobile network connectivity and technology.  The Fund’s adviser is Neuberger Berman Investment Adviser LLC and the adviser’s experienced investment team, located in the U.S. and Asia, manage over $10 billion in next generation connectivity assets, including the proceeds of this offering.

About Neuberger Berman

Neuberger Berman, founded in 1939, is a private, independent, employee-owned investment manager. The firm manages a range of strategies—including equity, fixed income, quantitative and multi-asset class, private equity, real estate and hedge funds—on behalf of institutions, advisors and individual investors globally. With offices in 25 countries, Neuberger Berman’s diverse team has over 2,300 professionals. For seven consecutive years, the company has been named first or second in Pensions & Investments Best Places to Work in Money Management survey (among those with 1,000 employees or more). In 2020, the PRI named Neuberger Berman a Leader, a designation awarded to fewer than 1% of investment firms for excellence in Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) practices. The PRI also awarded Neuberger Berman an A+ in every eligible category for our approach to ESG integration across asset classes. The firm manages $402 billion in client assets as of March 31, 2021. For more information, please visit our website at www.nb.com.