Earth Capital flags biomass for more investment after platform launch; Apollo distances itself from Man Utd reports

'Perhaps biomass isn’t quite as glamorous as the wind farms and the solar farms, but it has to form part of a bigger strategy,' said Earth Capital's Avent Bezuidenhoudt.

Good morning Eurohubsters, it’s Craig McGlashan here with the Dealflow.

A lot of new readers are joining us this week – welcome all! – so I’ll be including an ‘in case you missed it’ section at the bottom of each newsletter for the next few days with a bit of info on what PE Hub Europe is about and some of our coverage so far. But first, with the impact of climate change and efforts to combat it front and centre of our minds as ever, my colleague Nina Lindholm has a must-read article for you this morning.

Fresh investment. Earth Capital plans to improve the biomass-fuelled energy plants in its newly established bioenergy platform with additional investment and is eyeing opportunistic new assets, head of investment and director, Avent Bezuidenhoudt, told Nina.

In mid-August, Earth Capital announced the launch of its UK-based bioenergy platform, Sustainable Energy Holdings Limited, the result of a merger of four of its portfolio companies: Eccleshall Biomass (based in Eccleshall), Limelight Energy (based in County Durham) and two firms based on the Isle of Wight, Black Dog Biogas and Bright Light Energy. All four firms are low-carbon bioenergy generation assets.

“Perhaps biomass isn’t quite as glamorous as the wind farms and the solar farms, but it has to form part of a bigger strategy,” said Bezuidenhoudt.

London-based Earth Capital has identified biomass as an area that needs more investment, particularly given Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. “We’ve known for the last couple of years that there was a risk around energy security, but this year shocked everyone,” Bezuidenhoudt said. “Watching what’s going on in Germany has taken everyone by surprise.”

You can read the full interview here.

No goal. One potential deal that looks like it won’t happen is Apollo Global Management buying a minority stake in English football club Manchester United.

A Bloomberg story over the weekend cited “a person familiar with the situation” who said that Apollo isn’t interested in buying part of the club.

Reports of Apollo’s potential investment surfaced in the middle of last week. Many fans of the club didn’t like the news – despite them and former players regularly protesting against the Glazer family’s ownership of the club.

Former United captain Gary Neville tweeted: “If the reports are true that the Glazer Family are ready to part sell ahead of a full sale it’s totally unacceptable that this is to a US investment fund. Apollo have been mentioned but they need to know they will not be welcomed in Manchester.”

Neville threw in a hand-wave emoji for good measure.

In case you missed it. Last month, we launched PE Hub Europe to bring the deal expertise PE Hub has developed in North America to private equity investments in Europe.

One of the biggest deals we’ve covered so far was Bain Capital Private Equity’s reinvestment in Milan-based luxury packaging and labelling firm Fedrigoni, alongside BC Partners.

The deal valued the company at €2.7 billion to €3 billion, PE Hub Europe understands.

It also offered the chance to get the views of two dealmakers. I first spoke to Stefano Ferraresi, partner, head of the industrial sector in Europe and the Italian market, at London-based BC Partners. He told me that Fedrigoni was an investment somewhat protected from economic downturns.

“Luxury packaging is generally more insulated from recessions than many other packaging segments,” he said. “And the self-adhesive label businesses supply products for applications in personal care, wine labels, pharma, among others, that tend to be rather stable during soft economic periods.”

You can read the whole interview with Stefano here.

I also spoke to Bain Capital’s Ivano Sessa, a managing director and European co-head of the industrial vertical. He spoke about some of the new technologies that Fedrigoni could use to grow its business.

One such avenue is to build on its label business. “Believe it or not, but in the world of paper and labels there are actually new technologies with great growth potential,” said Sessa. “Think about RFID, or so-called smart labels, which is one of the more recent acquisitions in our label business, which allows goods and products to be tracked at a fraction of the previous cost. Think about the relevance of that in retail, in distribution and in a number of other applications.”

Bain Capital is headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts.

My full interview with Ivano is available here.

That’s it from me – happy dealmaking and we’ll speak again on Tuesday.