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Attero owns two energy from waste (‘EfW’) plants, two sorting and pre-treatment facilities, six anaerobic digestion facilities, seven composting facilities and 10 landfills. The company processes waste from a diverse mix of domestic municipalities, commercial and industrial customers, as well as a number of UK and Irish exporters.
Attero has good revenue visibility due to its long-term contracts with customers. It is well positioned within the Dutch market with two of the largest and most efficient EfW plants in the country, strategically positioned with good port, road and rail access for both import and domestic waste supply. In addition, Attero is strongly positioned to benefit from favourable underlying trends in the European waste market, driven by EU directives targeting more recycling.
Developments in the year
Since our acquisition, market supply and demand dynamics have been favourable and resulted in increasing gate fees. Power price forecasts have also increased, which may positively impact future revenues from the sale of electricity. The acquisition debt was refinanced during the year, achieving an investment grade structure and resulting in better terms than assumed in our investment case.
A new steam offtake pipeline and electricity turbine was commissioned, creating an environmentally friendly and renewable source of electricity. A new Polymer Recycling Plant (‘PRP’) started operations at the Wijster site. The PRP will enable Attero to recycle 24,000 tonnes of used plastic packaging into high quality regranulate each year.
Headquartered in Esbjerg, Denmark, ESVAGT is a leading provider of emergency rescue and response vessels (“ERRV”) and related services to the offshore energy industry in and around the North Sea and the Barents Sea. The company is also the market leader in the fast growing segment of service operation vessels (“SOV”) for the offshore wind industry. ESVAGT has been operating since 1981, employs c.900 people and owns a fleet of c.40 vessels.
Its ERRV services mainly involve the rescue and recovery of personnel, but also include the dispersion and recovery of oil spills, crew transfers and towing. ESVAGT is the leading provider of ERRV services in Denmark and Norway, with market shares of approximately 100% and 50%, respectively, as well as an established and growing presence in the UK. The majority of ESVAGT’s ERRV revenues are associated with North Sea oil and gas production support, with the remainder generated by supporting exploration activity.
ESVAGT is also the pioneer and market leader in the provision of SOVs to offshore wind farms, with four bespoke vessels in operation and a further two under construction. SOVs are purpose-built, high performance vessels, providing efficient transport of maintenance technicians to wind turbines and other offshore wind equipment, under long term contracts. The offshore wind market, and hence demand for SOVs, is expected to grow strongly over the coming years, creating significant opportunities for the company.
Developments in the year
The market conditions in which ESVAGT operates are gradually improving. Stable oil prices combined with a reduced cost base in oil and gas companies are improving the demand dynamics, which should lead to increasing contract coverage and rates in the emergency rescue and response vessel (‘ERRV’) market for ESVAGT’s tonnage, albeit on shorter contract durations than previously experienced.
Peter Lytzen became CEO in September 2018 and Sisse Mai was appointed as CFO in December 2018.
Offshore wind business
The wind service operation vessels (‘SOVs’) segment has continued to grow ahead of our initial expectations. ESVAGT signed contracts with MHI Vestas for three new SOVs in the year and the pipeline for new opportunities remains healthy in this high growth market.
In December 2017, ESVAGT completed a €376 million refinancing. As part of the refinancing, the Company invested DKK 175 million further equity (c.£21 million) into ESVAGT.
This refinancing replaces the debt taken on at acquisition and provides funding for further growth in ESVAGT’s offshore wind service business.
3i Infrastructure acquired ESVAGT from AP Møller-Maersk and other minority shareholders in September 2015, in a consortium with AMP Capital.
ESVAGT has strong infrastructure characteristics and operates in an attractive market:
Infinis is the largest generator of electricity from landfill gas (“LFG”) in the UK, with a portfolio of 121 landfill sites and total installed capacity of over 300MW.
Alkane Energy acquisition
In March 2018, the Company announced its intention to increase its investment in Infinis by £125 million to fund Infinis’s acquisition of Alkane Energy (‘Alkane’), an independent power generator from both coal mine methane (‘CMM’) and reserve power (‘Peaking’) operations and the largest generator of electricity from CMM in the UK.
As at December 2017, Alkane had 160MW of installed generating capacity operating from 32 sites across the UK.
The merger of Alkane with Infinis will create a business with significant scale, offer operational improvement opportunities and the potential to further elevate Alkane’s generation performance and growth potential.
Developments in the year
Infinis continues to be a strong contributor to the Company’s yield, as anticipated in our investment case.
Its core business, generating electricity from landfill gas and coal mine methane, performed well in the year, on the back of strong baseload power prices. The integration of Alkane Energy, acquired in early 2018, is complete and management is focused on delivering synergies and improving engine availability at the former Alkane Energy sites.
The combined business was refinanced during the year, extending debt maturities, securing attractive terms and providing flexibility for further growth. The refinancing funded an additional £40 million distribution to the Company.
Infinis has continued to exploit spare engine and grid connection capacity to develop power response (‘PR’) generation activities. As at 31 March 2019, it had 30 operational PR sites with an installed capacity of 180MW, and a pipeline of further projects in construction or at the planning stage of over 100MW.
The outlook for the ‘embedded benefits’ that Infinis presently receives is uncertain pending an industry-wide regulatory review of these being undertaken by Ofgem and, separately, all payments under capacity market contracts, including those to Infinis, are currently suspended in response to a European Court of Justice ruling.
The investment in Infinis is foremost a yield play. Its front-ended cashflows balance other recent investments by the Company in more growth-oriented businesses. Revenues are underpinned by the inflation-linked UK Renewables Obligation Certificate (“ROC”) regime until 2027. Infinis could also become a platform to make new investments in activities such as distributed power generation from other gas sources, distributed energy storage by exploiting the business’s spare engine and grid connection capacity, and additional landfill gas sites.
Infinis is the largest generator of electricity from LFG in the UK, with a portfolio of 121 landfill sites and total installed capacity of over 300MW. LFG is produced by decomposing organic matter in landfill sites. If released into the atmosphere unchecked, LFG contributes to pollution and is a potent greenhouse gas. By extracting LFG from landfill sites, Infinis fulfils an essential role in helping landfill operators meet their environmental compliance obligations. By using the collected LFG to generate electricity, Infinis supplies distribution networks with a consistent source of baseload power.
Joulz is a leading owner and provider of essential energy infrastructure equipment and services in the Netherlands. It leases essential energy infrastructure equipment and meters to a large and diversified customer base of industrial, commercial and public sector customers. It has two business units: Infrastructure Services and Metering.
The Infrastructure Services business owns and leases medium voltage electricity infrastructure such as transformers, switchgear and cables under long-term contracts. The Metering business owns and leases approximately 50,000 electricity and gas meters for non-household customers under medium term contracts.
3i Infrastructure acquired Joulz in April 2019, having committed to invest in March 2019.
Transport & logistics
Oystercatcher is the holding company through which the Company holds 45% interests in five subsidiaries of Oiltanking, located in Belgium, Malta, the Netherlands and Singapore.
These businesses provide over five million cubic metres of oil, petroleum and other oil-related storage facilities and associated services to a broad range of clients, including private and state oil companies, refiners, petrochemical companies and traders.
Oiltanking is one of the world’s leading independent storage partners for oils, chemicals and gases, operating 73 terminals in 22 countries with a total storage capacity of 19 million cubic metres.
On 2 May 2017, Oiltanking Ghent acquired 100% of Belgotank NV, a company which owns 82,000 cubic metres of tank capacity located on the Oiltanking Ghent site. These provide a mix of small tanks which are complementary to the business’s existing tank portfolio. On 25 September 2017, Oystercatcher made a follow-on equity investment of €2.4 million into Oiltanking Ghent to part fund that acquisition.
Developments in the year
The oil storage market has continued to face challenges caused by an extended period of backwardation in oil product markets, alongside uncertainty in the bunker fuel market in the lead up to the introduction, on 1 January 2020, of the International Maritime Organisation’s new regulation restricting the sulphur content of fuel used for shipping (‘IMO 2020’).
We expect the market backdrop to improve later in 2019 as implementation of IMO 2020 nears. Furthermore, the oil products market will continue to switch between periods of backwardation and contango.
The high quality of the Oystercatcher portfolio provides significant protection against the adverse impacts of market conditions. An example is the signing in the year of a new long-term contract for jet fuel storage, taking advantage of the existing dedicated pipeline from Oiltanking Amsterdam to Schiphol airport.
The biggest contributor to value is Oiltanking Singapore. In the medium to long term, a growing imbalance between demand for and supply of gasoline storage in the Asia Pacific region underpins our expectation that the storage market in Singapore will again strengthen.
The investment in the Amsterdam, Malta and Singapore terminals was completed in August 2007, while the investment in the Ghent (Belgium) and Terneuzen (Netherlands) terminals was completed in June 2015.
The key elements of the investment case for the terminals are:
The transactions allowed 3i Infrastructure to partner with a leading player in the oil storage market, with a strong operational reputation.
Tampnet is the leading independent offshore communications network operator in the North Sea and the Gulf of Mexico. It is headquartered in Norway, with operations in the UK, Scandinavia and the USA.
Tampnet provides high speed, low latency and resilient data connectivity offshore through an established and comprehensive network of fibre optic cables, 4G base stations, and microwave links. It operates across four main business areas: fixed installations, mobile rigs and vessels, roaming for offshore workers and international carriers. The majority of its business involves providing fixed fibre links to oil platforms.
Developments in the year
Tampnet has outperformed our investment case since we committed to invest in July 2018, largely due to the increased services requested by its clients in the North Sea.
During the year, the business has continued to build out deepwater base stations in the Gulf of Mexico, which will increase Tampnet’s coverage in the region and will provide a new source of revenue generation. In the North Sea, Tampnet was awarded a long-term contract to operate the telecommunications infrastructure on the Dutch continental shelf.
The desire of market players to invest in digital transformation in the oil and gas market is high, and the business continues to evaluate and pursue a number of growth opportunities internationally.
3i Infrastructure acquired 50% of Tampnet in March 2019 alongside Danish pension fund ATP, having committed to invest in July 2018.
Transport & logistics
Headquartered in Brussels, Belgium, TCR is Europe’s largest independent asset manager of airport ground support equipment (“GSE”) and operates at 139 airports.
Since inception, TCR has defined the market for leased GSE, providing high quality assets and a full service leasing, maintenance and fleet management offering to its clients, which are predominantly independent ground handling companies, airlines and airports. This enables GSE operators to concentrate on their core business of ground handling. The GSE that TCR provides is critical infrastructure, without which some of Europe’s busiest airports could not operate.
Developments in the year
TCR performed well in the year. It now operates in 139 airports, an increase from 112 at the start of the year. It has won new business across its established operations in Europe and Asia and commenced its first leasing contracts in the US and Australasia. Following its acquisition of Emerge Engineering and Maintenance in 2017, TCR signed a sizeable sale and lease-back fleet conversion in Australia and New Zealand.
Contract renewal levels in its core European markets remain very high, demonstrating the defensive nature of the cash flows and TCR’s strong position in a growing market. Customers continue to value the improved efficiency, flexibility and reliability to their operations that contracting with TCR brings.
As planned at acquisition, Tom Bellekens was appointed CEO in October 2018. Former CEO and founder, Marc Delvaux, remains with the business as a non-executive director.
TCR was refinanced in June 2018 with long-term institutional funding on attractive terms, alongside a sizeable capital expenditure facility to support further growth.
TCR acquired Aerolima, another lessor of GSE in France. The transaction adds approximately 2,000 pieces of equipment, 20 airports and 12 workshops to TCR’s existing business.
TCR fits with the Company’s strategy of investing in companies with good asset backing, strong market positions and barriers to entry, yet with operational levers to achieve attractive returns for shareholders through active asset management:
Valorem is a leading independent renewable energy development and operating company. It is one of the largest onshore wind developers in France, having developed over 480MW of capacity over the last 10 years.
The French power market is experiencing a major transition as it looks to reduce its reliance on nuclear generation and to increase generation from renewable sources of energy such as wind and solar. The energy transition has been continuously supported by the French governments over the past decade. With in-house capabilities across the entire project cycle and a strong local footprint, Valorem is well positioned to benefit from this shift in energy mix.
Developments in the year
Valorem’s performance continues to be driven by the expansion of its asset base in an attractive and growing market. During the year, 92MW of generating capacity entered into construction, which will lead to a total capacity of 340MW. The pipeline of both wind and solar projects is developing faster than in our investment case. Earnings from electricity generation grew strongly during the year.
The political environment in France continues to be supportive, with an official Government objective to more than double renewable electricity generation capacity in 10 years and specific support for increasing solar capacity.
French wind farm tariffs are demonstrating resilience, due to reduced competition in recent auctions. Valorem’s current portfolio (operational and under construction) is relatively young, with an average residual life of the power purchase agreement of approximately 12 years.
The Finnish wind and French hydro pipelines are also maturing in a supportive market environment.
Renewables benefit from strong support from the French Government, which has an objective of a 32% renewables contribution by 2032 coupled with a carbonneutral electricity mix by 2040. In line with the need to triple the current installed PV capacity by 2023, in December 2017 the Government announced an increase of future PV auctions from 1.45GW to 2.45GW per annum over the next three years.
This investment diversifies the Company’s portfolio with exposure to a growing renewables business in one of the most attractive European markets, and access to recurring, inflation-linked cash flows underpinned by a robust regulatory regime.
Led by its experienced management team, Valorem is a best-in-class developer, being the fourth largest French wind developer and the largest independent one. It has a significant pipeline of projects at an advanced stage of development that it expects to convert into operating assets, with further projects at earlier stages to bring through the development process.
Wireless Infrastructure Group
WIG is the UK's second largest independent tower company and the largest to focus solely on telecom towers. It operates c. 2,000 towers and other wireless infrastructure assets, representing 7% of the UK market.
WIG is independent of any network operator and invests in shareable infrastructure that is made available to all networks.
In January 2018, the Company invested a further £186m to acquire co-shareholder Barings’ majority stake and a portion of the management’s holding. This brings the Company’s total ownership in WIG to 93.1%, with management retaining the balance of equity.
Developments in the year
WIG is performing well operationally and financially. Its priority in the coming years will be to work with its customers as they seek to upgrade and extend their networks to improve coverage and capacity. The introduction of 5G is expected to provide further opportunities for WIG.
WIG has established itself as the market leader in UK Indoor Networks and contracted a record number of systems in the year. WIG acquired Arqiva’s entire UK Indoor Networks portfolio, and now works with 20 of the UK’s largest 30 shopping centres, a growing number of stadium venues such as Anfield, Lord’s and Murrayfield, and large campuses such as King’s Cross, MediaCityUK and Canary Wharf.
WIG also acquired a small portfolio of towers in Ireland from Highpoint Communications. WIG has been shortlisted for the Transport for London project to deploy a Distributed Antenna System on the London Underground and it is the wireless infrastructure partner to Midlands Future Mobility – the UK’s largest pilot project for testing connected autonomous vehicles across roads in the West Midlands.
WIG completed a refinancing of its debt on favourable terms, which resulted in a £43.5 million distribution to the Company. The new debt package includes a sizeable capital expenditure facility that provides WIG with the flexibility to deliver organic growth plans and to fund further acquisitions.
The market outlook is favourable for tower companies as they support network customers in their projects to expand coverage in rural areas and densify networks and urban and suburban areas. Policy makers and mobile operators are becoming increasingly aware of the benefits of independently operated communications infrastructure and the market share of the independent tower sector continues to rise across Europe. The independent tower sector is also set to play a major role in supporting the deployment of 5G and the additional infrastructure this will require.
In June 2016 3i Infrastructure acquired a 36% economic interest in WIG investing approximately £75 million and joining existing majority shareholder Barings Alternative Investments (formerly known as Wood Creek Capital Management) and the management team as shareholders.
In January 2018, 3i Infrastructure plc completed its £186m further investment in WIG and acquired the stake owned by Barings LLC’s client accounts (“Barings), increasing its ownership to 91% of WIG’s equity, with the balance held by management.
This investment diversifies the Company’s portfolio with exposure to a growing communications infrastructure business. Communication towers are critical pieces of infrastructure that are largely agnostic to technological change. The cash flows generated by the business are inflation-linked and are underpinned by long-term contracts. With its scalable platform and track record of building new infrastructure and making accretive acquisitions, WIG is well placed to target further growth in the UK and across Europe.