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Local Finnish officials unaware of US firm's big data centre plans

A US company plans to build three huge data centres in Finland, but leaders from two of the announced cities said they had not heard anything about the plans.

Mustankeltainen serverihuone. Tietokoneiden servereitä.
File photo of data centre. Image: AOP

The US-headquarted consortium Silent Partner Group is planning to build three massive data centres in Finland, IT-news outlet Tietoviikko reported on Monday (in Finnish).

When the data centres are operational they will reportedly each have a minimum capacity of 250MW of electricity, which would place them at the top end of the data market, according to Data Economy magazine.

According to Tietoviikko, the firm has decided on the locations of all three of the planned data centres in Finland, but has so far only announced two.

One of the centres is reportedly to be built in the town of Hamina, about 145km east of Helsinki, while the other site is planned in the municipality of Sotkamo, located in the Kainuu region. The company has not announced the location of its third planned data centre in Finland, according to Tietoviikko.

CEO: Complete within 2 years

The Silent Partner Group's CEO Dale Hobbie told the magazine that planning of the data centres is already underway; saying that construction of the facilities would go ahead once appropriate permits are in order. He said the firm is aiming for the facilities to be completed by 22 months from now.

Tietoviikko reported that Hobbie refused to disclose the size of the investment involved or other details related to the project. Hobbie confirmed to Yle on Monday that one of the company's planned data centres is in Sotkamo.

But, when Yle contacted local officials in both Sotkamo and Hamina to learn more about the plans, they said that they had not been contacted by the company or heard anything about the plans apart from recently reading news about it.

Mayor: "First time I've heard of this"

The city of Hamina's development director Matti Filppu told Yle that the city has not been contacted about the firm's plans.

"I read the same article and then I Googled to look for more information," Filppu said.

Sotkamo's mayor Mika Kilpeläinen said the US firm hadn't been in contact with him, either.

"It is not a question of permit issues, and the plot [of land] is not reserved. No official has even approached [us]. Actually this is the first time I've heard of this," Kilpeläinen explained.

According to Data Economy magazine the company also plans to design, build and operate an additional three data centres in Norway, reporting that when all of its centres are operational it will put the consortium "in the top bracket of data centre networks in Europe."

Due to an availability of cheaper energy and Finland's top ranking on the Data Centre Risk Index in 2016, the country has become a popular country in which to build data centres.

Part of the state-run "Invest in Finland" initiative encourages foreign firms to set up data centres in the country, claiming that companies can save up to 50 percent on energy costs by doing so.

Hamina is already home to a data centre which is operated by Google and located at a former paper mill.

Quiet consortium

According to online business database Buzzfile, Silent Partner Group has a branch in Harker Heights, Texas and indicates the consortium primarily operates in the insurance information and consulting services industry with estimated annual revenues of around 120,000 US dollars.

One the company's subsidiaries, Level5 Data Center Group, LLC, is located at the same Texas address, and categorised as an engineering services company with estimated annual revenues of just under half a million US dollars according to Buzzfile.

Silent Partner Group also has offices in the US states of Florida, Texas, California and Pennsylvania and in the countries of Bulgaria and Greece.

Its subsidiaries include Level5 Data Center Group and Diversified Global Systems, according to Data Economy magazine, which noted that the firms' LinkedIn profiles "show little commercial activity up to now."

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