Co Antrim organics recycling firm acquired by Irish private equity group

Natural World Products manages around 250,000 tonnes of organic waste each year, developing into compost.

AN Irish private equity firm has taken a controlling interest in Co Antrim recycling company Natural World Products (NWP) following a multi-million-pound deal.

MML Growth Capital Partners Ireland (MML) announced it will invest £20 million into the waste specialist as part of the acquisition announce on Tuesday morning.

Global asset manager 57 Stars has also invested cash under the move, which will retain the current management team led by chief executive Colm Warren.

All of the existing shareholders apart from Mr Warren are set to exit the business.

Based in the former Glenside Quarry outside Belfast, NWP has grown into the largest recycler of household organic waste on the island of Ireland, managing around 250,000 tonnes of organics each year.

Set up in 1989 by Brendan Woods, the operation now employs 55 people across four facilities in Belfast, Antrim, Keady and Co Down.

It primarily converts food waste from the 11 councils around the north into peat-free organic compost.

The company’s New Leaf branded compost is used everywhere from gardens to championship golf courses such as Royal Portrush.

The funding for the MML acquisition has been drawn from MML Growth Capital Partners Ireland Fund II LP, a €145m growth fund backed by British Business Investments, AIB and a number of international institutional investors.

The fund primarily backs small and medium sized businesses on the island of Ireland, such as Fastway Couriers.

MML has already backed a number of firms in the north including Lowe Rental in Lisburn and Ashdale Care in Ballygawley.

Colm Warren, who remains as chief executive, said: “Building on the platform created by the vision of Brendan Woods and his family, we have achieved an awful lot in the last few years at NWP despite often challenging circumstances but, in reality, we are only getting started. We are delighted to have both MML, 57 Stars, and HSBC as supportive partners, backing our ambition for the business and helping to take NWP into its next cycle of development and evolution.”

Neil McGowan from MML described NWP as an outstanding example of the circular economy in action.

“Colm Warren and the NWP team are passionate about the business and have a proven track record of delivering strong growth. We are delighted to partner with them and are keen to invest further to allow this business achieve its exciting potential.”

Bernard C McGuire Jr, a managing director at 57 Stars said NWP can build on its market position on the island and expand into the UK and “into other geographies”.

“This business has a long and exciting runway in a critically important sector,” he said.

“Additionally, this investment is in one of our focus sectors – environmental sustainability – and is consistent with our philosophy of responsible investment.”

The investment was supported by bank financing provided by HSBC. EY advised the shareholders of NWP. Tughans acted as legal advisers to MML while Mills Selig acted for NWP shareholders. Shareholder agreements were facilitated by Crescent Capital. HNH provided financial and tax due diligence and Roland Berger provided commercial due diligence.

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