UK-based investors acquire gasification plant in Norway

Whitehelm Capital, a UK-based independent infrastructure manager, has completed the acquisition of Sarpsborg Avfallsenergi (SAE), a modern waste-to-energy plant in Sarspborg, Norway, on behalf of Australian superannuation fund Prime Super.

The company was recently sold by Hafslund one of the largest regional multi-utilities in Norway.

Located in biorefiner Borregaard ASA’s (“Borregaard”) industrial site in Sarpsborg, 90km south of Oslo and close to the border with Sweden, SAE is an “inside the fence” waste incineration and heat generation plant that was commissioned in March 2010.

The plant is based on a modern gasification technology developed by Energos. SAE has an installed capacity of 32.4 MW and gross production of 255 GWh. It uses a feedstock of around 80,000 tonnes of waste per year. 

The facility is exclusively dedicated to the supply of baseload process steam to a number of bio-chemical process plants owned by Borregaard under a long-term offtake contract. Borregaard is the world’s largest producer of lignin based biochemicals.

The agreed enterprise value for SAE is NOK 280 million (€30m) on a debt- and cash-free basis, which is 9.2x reported EBITDA. The acquisition is 100% equity financed.

Whitehelm’s chief investment officer, Graham Matthews, said: “The long-term contracted cashflows are a strong feature of this asset. While large trophy assets sold through competitive auctions are attracting very high prices, the mid-market continues to provide good investment opportunities for investors seeking stable returns from core infrastructure assets.

“This is Whitehelm Capital’s second investment in the Nordic region, following the acquisition of Storrun, a 30 MW onshore wind farm in Sweden, in December 2014. There are significant infrastructure investment opportunities in the Nordics, which benefit from strong, stable regulatory regimes and a sound economic environment.”

Whitehelm Capital sees significant growth potential for SAE, with opportunities to acquire additional upstream heat and energy recovery plants in the Nordics.

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