Investment Consortium Acquires European Leader in the Production of Green Gas to Grid
Nature Energy, the largest producer of biogas in Denmark, and the leading producer of green gas to grid in Europe from farm and food waste, was today acquired by a consortium comprised of European private equity energy investment specialists Pioneer Point Partners, global investment firm Davidson Kempner, and leading Danish pension fund Sampension. The privatisation of Nature Energy – a company founded by eight local Danish municipalities in 1979 as a natural gas distributor - marks a new growth era for the company, its management and employees. With an enterprise value of DKK 1.1 billion and debt facilities available from the Danish government’s Green Investment Fund and local banks, Nature Energy is poised to grow from 5 operational plants up to 17 domestically (including 2 under construction) within the next 5-10 years and to leverage Denmark’s pioneering position in green gas to grid production by expanding internationally. In addition, Nature Energy has more than 60,000 gas customers across Denmark and Europe.
“Today is a significant day for our employees, customers and partners. The new ownership will help us to continue to enhance our production of green gas to grid at home and begin to grow our business beyond Denmark.”, says Ole Hvelplund, CEO of Nature Energy.
Sam Abboud, founding partner of Pioneer Point Partners, added: “Nature Energy is a European leader in the emerging green gas to grid sector, and sits at the intersection of green energy production, the circular economy in waste management, and sustainable farming. Green gas injected into the European gas grid can be stored, which is critical to driving more renewable energy because it balances intermittent power sources such as wind and solar. Green gas also provides a direct path to green transport and heating using existing distribution infrastructure.”
“Nature Energy contributes to Danish agricultural output and productivity by returning scarce resources to nature, supports the local economy including more than 200 Danish farmers who directly or via cooperatives own a minority stake in the nearest Nature Energy plant, and help Denmark’s green energy transition and circular economy commitment by recycling farm and food waste.”, says Hasse Jørgensen, CEO of Sampension.
Management and the new owners intend to use the company’s strong capital base to accelerate growth of the existing green gas to grid plant pipeline and to develop new business activities in Europe and globally:
“We firmly believe that Nature Energy is the perfect platform to build a European giant in the emerging sector of grid injected waste-derived green gas, following other innovative Danish renewable energy players such as Vestas and Ørsted (formerly DONG) that have gone global.”, says Sam Abboud, founding partner of Pioneer Point Partners.
Green transition can create jobs
The vision to develop and expand Nature Energy will be realised from Funen, Denmark, where Nature Energy will remain headquartered. As the company grows into an international center of excellence in green gas to grid from farm and food waste, the investor consortium expects that both operations and local job numbers will increase. That ambition is supported by the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs:
“We clearly see this as a high value impact investment for Denmark. This will not only boost Nature Energy’s potential to export green gas to grid technology and infrastructure abroad, but also create jobs and R&D at home, allowing Nature Energy to contribute significantly to the green transition and growth of the Danish economy.”, says Steen Hommel, Director of Invest in Denmark.
The consortium partners are experienced at developing and building European market leaders in energy and environment sectors. For example, Pioneer has built renewable energy and recycling companies in the last 7 years in the UK, Spain and Italy, with a pending investment in Germany.
The sale of Nature Energy is part of a wider transformation of the Danish gas sector where the government has acquired the gas grid in order to realise an efficiency potential for the benefit of Danish gas consumers.
Facts about green gas to grid (Biomethane)
The European Biogas Association estimates that the biomethane will grow over 15x from 1.2 billion m3 by 2015 to 18 billion m3 by 2030 driven by regulation in the EU transport and heating sectors.
- When fully developed Nature Energy's seven biomethane plants can produce approx. 100 million m3. This is expected to put Denmark ahead of 26 EU countries with the highest per capita production of green gas in the grid from farm and food waste.
- On 2 March 2018, Nature Energy commissioned Månsson, the biggest organic green gas plant in Europe, inaugurated by the Danish Finance Minister together with local mayors and farmers.
Nature Energy's two in-construction biogas plants at Korskro and Videbæk are expected to produce up to 60 million m3 of biomethane a year and will be two of the biggest green gas to grid plants globally.
- Nature Energy was established in 1979 under the name Naturgas Fyn (Natural Gas Funen). At that time, the company's task was to establish a gas grid on Funen.
- In 2012 a political agreement enabled the distribution of green gas into the Danish grid. Based on this, Nature Energy launched its green growth strategy, and today Nature Energy is a European leader in green gas to grid production.
- Nature Energy has until now been owned by 8 local municipalities. The company will continue to be based in Odense, Funen.
- Nature Energy has 5 operational plants, 2 under advanced construction and a pipeline of new projects.
- Nature Energy has more than 60,000 gas customers across Denmark and Europe.
- Nature Energy has an agreement with Audi to replace natural gas in Audi’s gas-powered vehicles in Europe with biogas from Denmark.
About the consortium acquiring Nature Energy
- Pioneer Point Partners is an investment company that specialises in the energy and environmental sectors across Europe. The firm was established in 2008 by four partners who have deployed more than €700 million of equity into 27 portfolio companies in 17 countries over the past two decades.
- Sampension has assets under management of almost DKK 284 billion and is Denmark’s third-largest pension provider. Sampension has 300,000 customers, whose combined annual pension contributions amount to more than DKK 9 billion.
- Davidson Kempner is an SEC registered global investment firm with more than 30 years of experience and a focus on fundamental investing. DKCM and its affiliates currently have approximately US$30 billion in assets under management.
- The Danish company NGF Denmark Holding will own Nature Energy and represents the consortium.
Sampension: Director of Communications: Søren P. Espersen, +45 4036 6150
Who to contact
Søren P. Espersen
Director of Communications, Sampension