Whitehelm buys $33m Nordic waste-to-energy plant

The fund manager has purchased SAE on behalf of Australia’s Prime Super, sealing its second deal in the Nordics.

Whitehelm Capital has acquired Sarpsborg Avfallsenergi (SAE), a waste-to-energy plant in Sarspborg, Norway, on behalf of Australian pension Prime Super.

The Canberra-headquartered firm bought the facility from Hafslund, an Oslo-listed power business, through a fully equity-financed deal that values the business at about NKr280 million ($33 million; €30 million). The price tag represents about 9.2x EBITDA, according to Whitehelm.

Located in a biorefining complex 90km south of Oslo, close to the border with Sweden, SAE is a waste incineration and heat generation plant commissioned in March 2010. It has an installed capacity of 32.4MW and uses a feedstock of about 80,000 tons of waste per year.

The facility supplies all of the power it generates to several biochemical processing plants owned by Borregaard, a Norwegian company that produces chemicals based on timber as a raw material, under a long-term offtake contract.

“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,” said Graham Matthews, Whitehelm’s chief investment officer.

Whitehelm, which has about A$4.3 billion ($3.2 billion; €2.9 billion) under management, is an unusual infrastructure investment outfit in that it has stuck to raising capital through separate accounts since pioneering the structure 18 years ago through an arrangement with MTAA Super.

“We have thought about blind-pool funds over the years and may well do that in some specific sectors. But our mainstay will always be separately managed accounts on the unlisted equity side,” Matthews told Infrastructure Investor in an in-depth interview published last month.

SAE marks the firm’s second investment in the Nordics, after it acquired Storrun, a 30MW onshore wind farm in Sweden, in December 2014.