| 10.3°C Dublin

Private equity giant Cerberus buys waste company Greenstar

ONE of the biggest private equity firms in the world is to take over waste management firm Greenstar after buying the business out of receivership.

Cerberus European Investments (CEI) will take over Greenstar nine months after the company fell into receivership with debts of more than €80m.

The price paid is understood to have been less than the debt owed.

CEI is a division of Cerberus Capital Management, a huge US investment firm with around $20bn (€15bn) under management.

The sale is set to close before the end of June, subject to regulatory approval.

While terms of the deal were not released, it is hoped that most of Greenstar's 550 staff will be retained.

Deloitte's David Carson, who is the receiver for Greenstar, said he was "pleased" to have agreed a rescue for the business.

"The Greenstar business is complex but plays a vital role in Ireland," he said.

"Working on a solution to the business has been challenging, and changes in the company were required to make it a sustainable business."

Greenstar processes about one million tonnes of waste every year, making it one of the biggest such firms in the country.

It struggled under huge debts from the boom, however, and since it collapsed it has shed around 250 of its 800 staff.

Wage cuts

In February, the company's remaining 550 employees were told they would have to take wage cuts of nearly 40pc if the company was to survive.

Mark Keough, who will be chief executive of Greenstar after the deal closes, said he "looks forward to building on the changes made in the company and the company's good base of commercial and household customers".

Cerberus is one of the biggest private equity firms in the world, with interests across a wide range of business.

It held a majority stake in the motoring giant Chrysler from 2007 until it went into bankruptcy during the financial crisis of 2009.

It currently owns United States military contractor DynCorp, which has done business with the military in Iraq, Afghanistan and the former Yugoslavia.

Notoriously, Cerberus also owns Freedom Group – a gun manufacturing conglomerate that includes the Remington and Bushmaster brands.

That investment caused huge controversy last year when a Bushmaster rifle was used in the massacre of schoolchildren at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.

Following the massacre, Cerberus announced it would sell its interest in Freedom Group.

Ron Bolger, an adviser to Cerberus in Ireland, will join the board of directors of Greenstar following the closing of the transaction.

Mr Bolger said: "I have worked with Cerberus on successful investments in the past, including a prior role as vice-chairman of AerCap, and expect Greenstar to continue and expand upon its leading role in the evolving Irish waste management industry."

Irish Independent