Blackstone, the private equity behemoth which has become one of the world's largest real estate investors, is in talks to buy a major constructor of data centres in a deal that would underline shifting trends in the global economy.
Sky News has learnt that Blackstone is the frontrunner to acquire Winthrop Technologies, a privately owned company based in Ireland, for a price believed to be in the region of £700m.
If completed, it would mark Blackstone's latest deal in the burgeoning data centre sector, which is being fuelled by exploding demand for computing power.
The New York-listed investor paid $10bn (£8bn) to buy QTS, an operator of data centres, in 2021.
The size of the stake that Blackstone is in talks to buy was unclear on Monday, although it is understood to be a controlling shareholding.
Winthrop provides so-called turnkey solutions for clients - designing and building data centres in a number of European countries including Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands and Sweden.
Such facilities are becoming increasingly important as the rise of artificial intelligence applications is expected to trigger a surge in demand for large-scale data centres.
Winthrop reported last year that its turnover had exceeded €1bn (£855m) for the first time, with profits estimated at more than €100m (£86m).
It added that it expected to create hundreds of new jobs by the end of 2024.
Rothschild, the investment bank, is understood to be advising Winthrop on the talks.
Blackstone declined to comment, while Winthrop could not be reached for comment.