Mr Wakelin has had a long involvement in the waste sector and was chief executive of Materials Recovery Ltd in 2001 which was later to become Greenstar UK. He had been tipped to be appointed as chief executive of the newly-expanded Biffa ever since the proposed sale of Greenstar UK to Biffa’s private equity owners for £135 million was announced in June 2010 (see letsrecycle.com story).
He takes over the post from Mark Keough, who was appointed as Biffa’s interim chief executive in May 2010, when Andre Horbach stepped down after just two years in the role (see letsrecycle.com story (see letsrecycle.com story).
Mr Keough, who is a director of one of Biffa’s co-owners, Montagu Private Equity Associates, will continue to work as an advisor with Mr Wakelin and the rest of the senior management team of Biffa to develop a new plan for the combined business.
Mr Wakelin has strong personal experience of buying and selling businesses and integrating workforces. He almost joined Biffa at the turn of the century when he was finance director of American-owned UK Waste which was acquired by Biffa for £380 million in June 2000. He left the company soon after to form Materials Recovery which later as the UK branch of Ireland’s Greenstar business was to acquire Wastelink and RU Recycling. At the time Mr Wakelin was emphasising the importance of increasing the recycling of commercial waste but in more recent times the company’s involvement with the municipal sector has increased with its purchase of Verdant.
Commenting on his appointment as chief executive, Mr Wakelin said: “I am delighted that the Board has offered me this opportunity to lead the combined Greenstar and Biffa business.
“We undoubtedly have the best platform for growth in the UK waste industry and I look forward to working with the rest of the Biffa team to realise the full potential of this business,” he added.
Commenting on Mr Wakelin’s appointment, Mr Keough said: “We are pleased to have retained Ian as CEO of the combined business. He has impressed all of us with his track record and leadership qualities and we look forward to great things from the new Biffa.”
Mr Wakelin’s appointment comes as Biffa revealed that the purchase of Greenstar UK by its owners Montagu and US group Global Infrastructure Partners from its Irish owners National Toll Roads was formally concluded late last week.
The deal had received the go-ahead from European regulatory authorities earlier this month, paving the way for its completion (see letsrecycle.com story). A spokesman for Biffa today told letsrecycle.com that the deal had “officially gone through”, adding that “as of the back end of last week, Greenstar was formally acquired by Biffa Group”.
No announcement has been made yet on the make-up of the senior management team or exactly what the deal will mean for Biffa and Greenstar staff and customers on the ground.
However, the acquisition is set to make Biffa the UK’s second largest waste company, and significantly boost the materials recycling and collections aspects of its operations.