Australian company Macquarie reaches deal to buy Panda owner Beauparc

Industry sources value waste collection company at about €1 billion

Eamon Waters set up Panda in 1990 on land adjoining his family’s filling station business in Beauparc, near Slane, Co Meath. Photograph: Photocall Ireland

Eamon Waters set up Panda in 1990 on land adjoining his family’s filling station business in Beauparc, near Slane, Co Meath. Photograph: Photocall Ireland

 

The largest waste company in the State, Beauparc Utilities, is to be taken over by Australian financial services giant Macquarie from the business’s founder, Eamon Waters, and private equity firm Blackstone.

Parties to the deal confirmed the agreement in a joint statement on Tuesday, which did not disclose the price.

However, industry sources previously put a value of as much as €1 billion on the owner of the Panda and Greenstar waste firms in the Republic as well as operations in the UK and the Netherlands.

“Over 30 years, it has been an honour to see Beauparc grow from a two-person operation in Ireland to a business which employs more than 2,300 people across three markets,” said Mr Waters.

“Our team has worked tirelessly to build the trust of our clients and the communities we serve. We are pleased to have found a new owner to shape the next chapter of Beauparc’s growth story.”

New York investment giant Blackstone acquired a 37.6 per cent stake in Beauparc two years ago for an undisclosed sum. The remainder of the company is almost entirely in the hands of Mr Waters.

On the assumption that Beauparc’s total liabilities have not changed dramatically since the end of 2019, the balance sheet date of the company’s most recent set of publicly available results, a €1 billion deal would suggest a payday of about €367 million for the founder. A company spokesman declined to comment.

Mr Waters is expected to step down as executive chairman on completion of the deal. The rest of the management team, led by chief executive Brian McCabe, is set to remain, according to sources.

While Blackstone hired Wall Street investment bank JP Morgan late last year to work on finding a buyer for its stake, The Irish Times reported in January that a full sale was on the cards, after an initial deadline for expressions of interested lured up to 30 suitors, mainly US, UK and European private equity and infrastructure firms.

Approval

The deal with Macquarie, through its asset management unit’s Macquarie European Infrastructure Fund 6, is subject to regulatory approval. The Australian group was advised by Irish investment and advisory firm TowerView.

Mr Waters set up Panda in 1990 on land adjoining his family’s filling station business in Beauparc, near Slane, Co Meath.

It acquired Greenstar in 2016 and it expanded the same year into the UK market through acquisition. In 2018, it purchased Dutch waste and recycling business, Renes.

The deal comes amid strong levels of investor interest in the sector internationally.

British water utility Pennon Group sold its waste and recycling business, Viridor, to US private equity group Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR) in March last year for £4.2 billion (€4.86 billion) at a robust valuation of 18.5 times earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (ebitda). KKR is now reportedly looking to recoup some of its investment by selling off Viridor’s recycling unit.

Elsewhere, Canada’s GFL Environmental, one of the largest waste firms in North America, has almost doubled in value since it floated on the stock market early last year and subsequently acquired Texas peer WCA Waste.

Leigh Harrison, head of Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets, said: “We see a significant opportunity to build on Beauparc’s strong reputation in the sector, investing to support the growth of the circular economy through projects that divert waste from landfill. We look forward to partnering with its team to support Beauparc’s long-term growth plans.”

The company’s stable of brands include Bioverda, which extracts methane gas from landfill sites and generates electricity, energy supplier Panda Power, and A1 Skips.

Beauparc-owned businesses serve more than 340,000 residential, commercial, electricity and gas customers across a portfolio of 40 waste facilities, where more than three million tonnes of waste is processed each year, according to the joint statement. Beauparc is seeking to increase the amount of recyclable waste through significant investments in plastics recycling, soil restoration and anaerobic digestion, it said.