Plano-based Aligned, a data center platform focused on adaptable and future-proof technology, has closed on a new $1 billion credit facility. The company, founded in 2013, says it marks the first data center sustainability-linked financing in the U.S.
The private debt raise is also one of the largest in data center history, the company said in a news release. The credit facility, a type of loan product the company can draw from, consists of a $650 million term loan, a $100 million delayed draw term loan, and a $250 million revolving credit facility.
Aligned’s data center technology aims at infrastructure that can change the world. The debt raise will allow the mission-oriented tech firm to achieve its sustainability initiatives and help the company to meet its short- and long-term growth objectives, according to the release.
Aligned’s new financing is linked to its core environmental, social, and governance objectives in renewable energy, transparent reporting, and workplace safety. The debt raise will allow the mission-oriented tech firm to achieve its sustainability initiatives, and help the company to meet its short- and long-term growth objectives, it said.
The company says sustainability can make for smart business: Its data center solutions and patented cooling technology aim to improve sustainability and reliability—in reducing the energy, water, and space needed to operate, businesses have a competitive advantage by improving their bottom line.
Aligned CEO Andrew Schaap and CFO Anubhav Raj told Dallas Innovates they plan to leverage around $750 million to refinance existing debt and deliver on current contracts. The rest will further the company’s expansion in new and existing markets.
Currently, Aligned has construction happening across all of its data center campuses in four markets. That includes Plano (an expansion); Ashburn, Virginia (new construction, second data center); Salt Lake City, Utah (new construction, second data center); and Phoenix, Arizona (an expansion).
The new round of financing provides Aligned with the ability to keep expanding its data center portfolio, according to Schaap. That includes “land acquisition in key U.S. and international regions to address the heightened data center demand of our marquee clients, as well as expediting the expansion of existing data center campuses,” the CEO said.
Sustainable colocation is table stakes
CEO Schaap said sustainable colocation and sustainability-linked financing is closely tied to the needs of its customers.
“For our customer base, having a data center partner that is a good steward of the environment, who also offers sustainable options for power, cooling, and growth, is table stakes,” Schaap said. “Sustainability has been a core part of the Aligned DNA since our inception.”
That customer base consists of some of the most sophisticated buyers in the industry. Schaap and Raj keep a “firm focus on innovating” for that base, with more than 50 issued patents and 400-plus patent claims.
Its engineering and technology innovations tie to the company’s environmental stewardship.
CFO Raj said the financing accelerates the company’s goal to set a “best-in-class example” in the data center industry for environmentally and socially sustainable growth.
“Sustainable practices and principles permeate every facet of Aligned’s organization; aligning these initiatives with our financing further demonstrates an industry-leading commitment to environmental stewardship,” Raj said.
For instance: Aligned has made a commitment to make its annual energy consumption 100 percent zero-carbon renewable energy by 2024. It wants to have total transparency and continuous improvement across sustainability practices and is applying an industry-leading total recordable incident rate for workplace safety.
Earlier this year, the company matched 100 percent of its IT loads across its data center portfolio with certified renewable energy. And, with its Delta3 cooling technology, up to 80 percent less energy and 85 percent less water is used, which significantly reduces environmental impact and is a great example of the team’s continuous innovation.
‘A slew of firsts for the data center industry’
Aligned employs around 100 people directly, but Schaap and Raj expect that number to climb as the company continues to expand its footprint. Plus, as a result of construction projects and ongoing operations, it employs a number of third-party companies as well. Schaap and Raj say they always try to hire local resources.
“For example, we have anywhere between 700-1,000 workers at our Ashburn and Salt Lake City construction sites every day,” they told Dallas Innovates. “Our employees range from corporate leadership and administrative, to operations, platform delivery, innovation, sales, security, customer excellence, marketing, and HR professionals.”
Schaap and Raj are currently seeing an upside of the work-from-home world as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. “COVID-19 has certainly accelerated digital transformation and technology use,” they said.
The duo is proud of its team’s achievements and plans to continue “championing a slew of firsts for the data center industry.”
“The data center industry has seen large-scale growth as well as investor demand,” they said. “Investors are seeing an attractive return on investment, coupled with a powerful and unprecedented impact on championing sustainability in this space—in addition to being good stewards of the environment.”
For the new senior secured credit facility, TD Securities was the administrative and collateral agent, Goldman Sachs Lending Partners LLC the syndication agent, and ING Capital LLC the sustainability structuring agent. The joint bookrunners and lead arrangers were TD Securities, Goldman Sachs Bank USA, Citizens Bank, N.A., Deutsche Bank AG, New York Branch, and Nomura Securities International Inc.
Quincy Preston contributed to this report. The story was updated with artwork and additional information from the company on Sept. 18, 2020 at 10:29 a.m.
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