Review – Mariana Waste Management EIS
Mariana Waste Management (“MWM”) is an asset and contract-backed EIS focused on capital preservation. It invests in anaerobic digestion and waste water treatment assets which will process and dispose of dog waste providing a cost-effective solution to local government. This is an initial £5m fund raise and the first two contracts will be with two London-based local authorities.
- Target returns of £1.10 per £1.00 invested (after expenses and after 3 years, not guaranteed)
- Asset and contract backed
- Supplier to local Councils: high-quality credit counterparties
- Predictable, contractual long term revenue stream
- Environmentally friendly and sustainable
- Demand for this solution is driven by regulation so should be recession resilient
- EIS advance assurance received
An estimated 10 million tonnes of dog waste is produced per year. Councils are required to ensure it is subject to controlled disposal as it contains pathogens which increase the risk of human infections. However, safe disposal is expensive – an estimated £120 per tonne. In addition, councils are under pressure to reduce the amount of biological waste they send to landfill.
MWM EIS qualifying investee companies provide a solution.
They operate anaerobic digestion and waste water treatment assets that use proven technology to turn dog waste into 3% unharmful residue which can be used as compost and 97% clean water which can be put back into the sewerage system.
MWM estimates their solution can save local councils 20-30%.
MWM’s investee companies will enter into a secure 20-year contract with local councils. The contract will stipulate a fixed and index-linked price per tonne of dog waste processed over the 20-year term.
This means investee companies earn a stable, long term, contractual revenue stream from a high credit counterparty.
MWM’s investee companies will acquire the anaerobic digestion process and waste water treatment processing equipment. The approximate cost of these assets is £500,000 with an estimated useful life of 25 years (marginally longer than the term of the contract).
Once the 20-year contract has been signed with the council, these assets will be installed on council land most likely close to a landfill site. The assets will be acquired from Qube Renewables Ltd (“Qube”). Qube has a long track record and strong credentials in manufacturing, supplying and maintaining this type of kit. The processes and technology used by Qube has been successfully operated in other anaerobic digestion plant as borne out in the due diligence undertaken by MWM. MWM has provided several examples of projects of this nature where Qube supplied the equipment. We do note that on only one of these specified projects did the volume of waste reach 1,000 tonnes per year. While the technology appears to be proven we would note that the scaling up to produce more than 1,000 tonnes annually has not been demonstrated.
The contracts will stipulate the minimum amount of waste the investee company will process during the term of the contract and the fixed and inflation linked fee the councils will pay. The minimum amount MWM has used to arrive at its target returns is 1,000 tonnes per year.
The investee company will also reserve the right to source waste from other parties if it has surplus capacity and it is commercially viable, giving some potential for further upside.
The managerThe investment adviser and asset manager is Mariana Investments (“Mariana”).
Mariana was set up in 2009 to create and distribute innovative, high performance investment solutions. It is headquartered in the City of London, and offer global financial solutions ranging from Market Strategy and Tax Advisory to Structured Products, Funds and Tax Efficient Investments.
Elton James, co-founder of Mariana, with a strong background in financial services will lead the team. He is supported by Daniel Hawkins and Malcolm Ritchie, both experienced portfolio managers. Mariana will manage the operations day to day.
The investment manager is Enterprise Investment Partners (“Enterprise”). Enterprise are experienced managers of investments in the EIS sector. Enterprise will manage the investments and will be responsible for instructing the administrator and custodian to purchase shares in the Investee companies.
The administrator and custodian is James Brearley & Sons, an established investment manager and stockbroker.
The target return is £1.10 per £1.00 invested after 3 years, after all expenses. This does not include the investors tax relief. After tax relief, the target return is 1.57x money (£1.10/70p). The target return is not guaranteed.
The target return is predicated on the minimum volumes of 1,000 tonnes per facility per annum. MWM hopes the annual tonnage will exceed this and therefore the returns may be more. The MWM EIS is capital preservation focussed and the investment strategy is asset and contract backed.
ExitThe 20-year contractual revenue stream may make the investee companies attractive to a trade buyer or even an institutional investor which could provide the EIS investors with an exit targeted in year three.
- Operational risk - The anaerobic digestion and waste water treatment plant does not operate as expected and/or is unable to scale to large volumes of waste
- Running and maintenance costs may exceed forecast and profits may be eroded
- Deal flow - Councils may not want to change to this new method of processing and disposing of dog waste. This is unlikely given the contractual cost savings involved but the councils will need to be convinced the process works
- Concentration risk – to begin with the investee company will only invest in two projects (two London-based local authorities). Diversification of the portfolio will therefore be limited
- The usual risks with unquoted companies exist with this EIS offer. For instance, EIS investments are illiquid and capital is at risk. Investors should only invest money they are prepared to lose. The value of tax relief will depend on the circumstances of the individual investor and tax rules could change in future.
Enterprise, the investment manager will charge investee companies an initial charge of 2.5%. There is there is an annual management fee of 2% plus VAT (if applicable).
These fees are paid by the investee company rather than the investor directly, so tax relief should be obtained on the full amount of the investor’s subscription.
There is a performance fee of 25% of the exit proceeds over £1.10. A Wealth Club fee will be charged separately.
There is a nationwide need to deal with dog waste in a more environmentally friendly and cost effective way. As long as the process works MWM’s solution satisfies this need and could provide EIS investors with a long-term contractual indexed linked revenue stream. If MWM can demonstrate cost savings for the two initial projects and the plant works well, it is likely other councils will follow suit reducing the diversification risk.
The target return of £1.10 is based on a volume of 1,000 tonnes per year which does not appear unachievable subject to the operation of the plant. The MWM EIS is capital preservation focussed and the investment strategy is asset and contract backed.
This review is not intended to be advice or a personal recommendation to buy the investment mentioned, nor is it a research recommendation. Wealth Club aim to highlight investments we believe have merit, but investors should form their own view on any proposed investment.