Overview: Powerfuel Portland are proposing to build a £100m “energy from waste” incinerator on the Isle of Portland. This ambitious proposal is linked, via a number of intermediaries, to the giant Japanese investment and securities company, Daiwa Securities Group.

THE CORPORATE STRUCTURE OF POWERFUEL PORTLAND

To understand the commercial ambitions of Powerfuel Portland it’s necessary to take a deep breath and dive into their corporate structure. On the Powerfuel website and various bits of company literature you’ll see the name Powerfuel Portland Ltd.

This company, which was registered in February 2019, is 100% owned by a holding company which was originally called Powerfuel Ltd. but in March 2020 changed its name to Powerfuel HoldCo Ltd. Shortly after the name was changed, a new shareholder took a slice of the holding company: a Dutch company called Green Tower.

Green Tower, which now has a 15% stake in the Portland incinerator, is itself a joint Dutch/Japanese venture — and this, as we’ll see, is where the really big money comes in. If we want to know how major international investors came to have a finger in the Powerfuel Portland pie, we need to look no further than the smooth-talking lawyer, Steve McNab.

THE GLOBAL AMBITIONS OF MCNAB

Back in 2018, in the days when Powerfuel was just a glint in his eye, Steve McNab, founded the law firm Cleantech Cadre, a London-based advisory company with its eye on international dealmaking. According to Cleantech Cadre’s website: “Steve is well versed in the art of “translating” complex regulatory issues for international clients.”

His company has “strong links to overseas firms” its clients “are often overseas companies” who are “establishing or expanding operations here”. Cleantech Cadre have positioned themselves as “global project coordinators” for potentially “contentious” projects:

“For clients with an international footprint we frequently act as international  coordinator on major mandates whether transactional, contentious or project based.”

Pretty soon, McNab turned into an international coordinator on his own contentious project — Powerfuel Portland — which isn’t quite the “local company” it likes to style itself. This brings us back to Green Tower.

GREEN TOWER AND GREEN GIRAFFE

According to the Dutch Chamber of Commerce, Green Tower used to be called, until October 2019, Green Giraffe Holding. Green Giraffe are an Utrecht based company, which describe themselves as “a specialist advisory firm focused on the renewable energy sector launched in 2010 by experienced finance specialists”.

Green Giraffe recently did a deal with a gigantic Japanese finance house — as they announce on their website: “In October 2019, Green Giraffe entered a joint venture agreement with Daiwa Securities Group, whereby Daiwa took a 50% stake in the company.”

DAIWA

Daiwa has assets of around £200bn and 16,000+ employees worldwide. According to the World Economic Forum: “the Daiwa Securities Group is one of the largest independent, full-service securities groups in Japan.” Daiwa’s deal with Green Giraffe was done through a subsidiary, DC Advisory (which stands for Daiwa Capital Advisory).

DC ADVISORY

DC Advisory is Daiwa’s “international corporate finance advisory arm” — the ‘DC’ in the name stands for “Daiwa Corporate”. DC Advisory “provides tailored, independent advice on M&A, debt raisings and restructurings” and has 18 offices across the globe (including London).

The deal with Daiwa / DC Advisory has certainly expanded Green Giraffe’s horizons: the company has just opened an office in Singapore. Likewise, the international cash injection seems to have energised the directors of Powerfuel.

NEW VENTURES

Dip into the records of Companies House and you’ll see that Giles Frampton and Steve McNab, have been busy little bees. On October 14th 2020 they registered two companies — Powershore Ltd. and Powershore Portland Ltd. — and two days later a third — Powerfuel Alba Ltd. Each company has the same shareholder structure, with 15% of each entity owned by Green Tower. Powerfuel Alba is registered in Glasgow, so it looks like McNab and Frampton are already further afield for their next venture, after they’ve flipped the Portland incinerator and moved on.

➤ MORE ON STEVE MCNAB AND HIS PASSION FOR CLEANTECH