Wheelabrator acquires United Materials Management, sells off UK business

Wheelabrator acquires United Materials Management, sells off UK business

Wheelabrator says the acquisition of UMM’s customers, as well as its rail and transfer infrastructure, expands the company’s collection and disposal services in New England.

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December 18, 2020

Wheelabrator Technologies Inc., Portsmouth, New Hampshire, recently announced it acquired Westborough, Massachusetts-based United Material Management (UMM). On Dec. 17, Wheelabrator followed up this announcement with the news that it had entered into an agreement to sell WTI/EFW Holdings (Wheelabrator U.K.) to the European Diversified Infrastructure Fund III SCSP (EDIF III). EDIF III is an infrastructure fund managed by Sydney, Australia-based First Sentier Investors (FSI).

According to the company, UMM operates 34 routes with a fleet of 55 collection vehicles from six locations in Massachusetts, including two rail-served transfer stations and an advanced construction and demolition (C&D) recycling facility.

Wheelabrator says the acquisition of UMM’s 22,000 residential and 2,500 commercial and roll-off customers, as well as UMM’s rail and transfer infrastructure, expands the company’s collection and disposal services in New England and provides a direct connection to the company’s Ohio-based landfills where it disposes municipal solid waste and C&D volumes.

The acquisition includes UMM transfer stations in the Massachusetts cities of Taunton and Leominster. The acquisition also includes UMM’s C&D recycling facility in Millbury, Massachusetts, which is located adjacent to Wheelabrator’s Millbury waste-to-energy facility.

The company says the acquisition of UMM’s C&D recycling facility will expand its offerings through the aggregate that is generated for construction and the recovered wood that can be used for fuel or to make particle board. The facility also accepts material from LEED projects and will help the company provide sustainable waste management options for its customers and the communities in which it operates, it says.

“Wheelabrator Technologies recently closed on the purchase of UMM, a privately owned hauling and transfer company located in Westborough, Massachusetts, serving residential and commercial customers from the west and south of Boston including the Worcester, Fitchburg, Taunton and Foxborough areas,” Michelle Nadeau, spokesperson for Wheelabrator, told Waste Today. “The purchase of UMM complements our current collections and disposal operations and supports our ability to serve 115,000 waste and recycling customers across 275 routes throughout the Northeast.

“We’re excited to welcome UMM’s 111 hardworking employees to our team. We appreciate the trust UMM has placed in us to guide this new partnership in New England, which will allow us to continue to build critical waste and environmental infrastructure, serve Massachusetts customers and communities and create new growth opportunities for employees.”

The UMM acquisition follows the company’s July purchases of Londonderry, New Hampshire-based Charles George Companies and Eliot, Maine-based Shipyard Waste Solutions.

While the company is taking on new customers in the U.S., the sale of its U.K. division represents a significant change in ownership in a region it had invested heavily in in recent years.

Wheelabrator U.K. is the largest pure-play waste-to-energy business in the U.K., the company says, and is a developer, owner and operator of waste-to-energy facilities, with seven waste-to-energy facilities in operation and advanced development.

In the past 12 months, Wheelabrator U.K. reached commercial operations at Wheelabrator Kemsley, a combined heat and power facility that provides steam to the DS Smith paper mill located in Kent and reached commercial operations at two new waste-to-energy facilities in North Wales and West Yorkshire, Wheelabrator Parc Adfer and Multifuel Energy Limited Ferrybridge 2, respectively. The business continues to advance the development of three additional waste-to-energy facilities, Multifuel Energy Limited Skelton Grange in Yorkshire, Wheelabrator Kelvin in West Bromwich and Wheelabrator Kemsley North in Kent.

“I am incredibly proud of the U.K. team and what we have achieved as one team to grow the Wheelabrator U.K. business over the last 11 years,” Wheelabrator Technologies President and CEO Robert Boucher says. “I look forward to the business continuing to execute on their strategy for continued development of critical waste infrastructure in the U.K. with their new shareholder and partner. The buildout of the largest, pure-play waste-to-energy business in the U.K. is the result of many years of commitment, hard work and strong partnerships with our customers and partners, and our ability to leverage our operational excellence from the U.S. and embed it into the U.K.”

“Today’s announcement marks another major milestone in the growth of our U.K. business,” Julia Watsford, managing director of Wheelabrator U.K., says. “We remain fully committed to providing our essential waste disposal service to our customers and communities, while ensuring the safety of our people, contractors and communities remains our No. 1 priority. We’re excited to work with our new partners at FSI to continue to deliver the critical infrastructure required to support the safe and reliable treatment of non-recyclable waste, both now and in the future. I’d like to thank all of our team members for their continued hard work and commitment to make a difference to make this business and this transaction a success.”

Wheelabrator Technologies was acquired by Macquarie Infrastructure Partners IV (MIP) in February 2019. MIP operates within the Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets division of Sydney-based Macquarie Group. According to MIP, Wheelabrator had worked to build up its asset base in the region in recent years.

“The Wheelabrator team has successfully developed a high-quality portfolio of waste-to-energy facilities in the U.K. over the past decade,” Karl Kuchel, CEO of MIP, says. “We have enjoyed the opportunity to support the company over the last two years as the team has completed construction and successfully commissioned three new U.K. facilities and advanced some promising new projects, despite challenges associated with COVID-19. We have full confidence in the continued success of the platform as the Wheelabrator U.K. business enters its next phase of growth under new ownership.”

“We are delighted to make this investment in Wheelabrator U.K. Following our recent agreement to acquire SSE’s stake in the Multifuel Energy Joint Venture, we are looking forward to combining the businesses to create the U.K.’s preeminent waste-to-energy platform,” Niall Mills, managing partner at FSI, says. “We are proud to support Wheelabrator U.K.’s role in facilitating the energy transition while diverting residual waste from landfill. We look forward to working with the team to grow the business and capitalize on the opportunities we see in the sector.”

Credit Suisse, Zurich, and J.P. Morgan, New York City, served as financial advisors to Wheelabrator U.K. on the sale, and London-based Linklaters served as legal counsel. Jefferies, New York City, and Macquarie Capital served as financial advisors to FSI, and Latham & Watkins, New York City, served as lead legal counsel. The transaction is expected to complete in early 2021.