UK waste sector mergers and acquisitions activity was higher in 2017 than in any of the previous six years.
Financial adviser Grant Thornton UK LLP’s latest Annual waste and resource management review recorded 50 deals in 2017, with 21 of these completed in the last quarter. That’s the highest quarterly level of waste sector mergers and acquisitions since 2010.
Deal activity was up 50 per cent on 2016.
Paper recycling and metal recycling accounted for 26 per cent of activity. The report highlighted Macfarlane Group’s acquisition of Nottingham Recycling Ltd and corrugated packaging manufacturer Greenwood Stock Boxes for £16.75 million.
It also recorded ‘a rise in appetite from overseas investors in acquiring UK businesses in the sector. Nine of the 50 deals seen in 2017 involved overseas acquirers’.
The report found that while private equity investors were involved in the largest deals in 2017, they only contributed to 10 per cent of overall activity.
Apax Partners’ acquisition of international hazardous waste company Safety-Kleen Europe was the largest deal in 2017, it said, at £640 million.
Commenting on the waste sector mergers and acquisitions activity, Mike Read, head of energy and environment at Grant Thornton UK LLP, said: ‘While deal activity remained relatively stable in most waste sub-sectors in 2017, recycling saw a stark increase.
“The ongoing uncertainty surrounding Brexit is creating a challenging environment for the waste management sector and, while deal levels have increased, it has also resulted in a drop in confidence for some.
‘The number of different potential outcomes from the negotiations also means that many companies have felt unable to look forward and confidently commit to making strategic plans.
‘However frustrating this current climate may be, it’s imperative that the waste sector starts to plan for the future.’