Asterion frontrunner for Telefonica's data center deal -source

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MADRID (Reuters) - Investment fund Asterion is ahead of its competitors to buy the data center business of Spanish telecoms operator Telefonica, a source with knowledge of the deal told Reuters on Wednesday.

Spanish online newspaper El Confidencial first reported the deal on Wednesday, saying Asterion will pay 600 million euros($669.18 million) for the asset.

Telefonica said in a statement on Wednesday that it was in an advanced stage of negotiations for the sale of some of its data centers but that no deal had been confirmed yet.

Asterion declined to comment.

Asterion has emerged ahead of rival bids from infrastructure and investment funds, the source said, although no deal has been finalised or agreed.

The deal would be the first in Spain by Asterion, whose CEO is Jesus Olmos, former KKR Global Co-Head of Infrastructure. The sale would allow Telefonica to reduce its 40.4 billion euro debt pile.

Last month, Asterion raised 519 million euros from sovereign wealth funds, pension funds and asset managers to find opportunities in the infrastructure sector all around Europe.

Reporting by Andres Gonzalez, editing by Jane Merriman/Ingrid Melander and Emelia Sithole-Matarise