IEA buys William Charles Construction Group/Ragnar Benson for $90 million

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Ragnar Benson workers on a Chicago Transit Authority project (Ragnar Benson website)

Indianapolis-based Infrastructure and Energy Alternatives, Inc. (IEA) says it has acquired Rockford-based William Charles Construction Group, including Ragnar Benson, for $90 million.

William Charles Construction is among the region’s largest road builders. It was known for decades as Rockford Blacktop and its Rockford roots trace back more than 120 years, RRStar.com reports. Ragnar Benson, based in Chicago, is a mega-contractor itself, with a resume including the Belvidere Chrysler Assembly Plant, Rochelle’s truck-train cargo hub and Lowe’s distribution center in Rockford.

IEA says the purchase “will create a national, market-leading platform in the attractive rail industry, broaden IEA’s exposure in the heavy and light civil infrastructure and environmental remediation spaces and expand IEA’s geographic footprint through the Southern and Western United States.”

“In the roughly six months since we listed on the NASDAQ, we have taken substantial steps to transform our company into a highly-specialized EPC platform that can service blue-chip customers from coast to coast in attractive growth industries,” IEA CEO J.P. Roehm said in a statement.

“William Charles’ addition will meaningfully diversify our capabilities and end markets, deepen our engineering expertise and substantially extend our geographic reach into climate-friendly, less seasonal markets. We also have a strong cultural fit with William Charles’ management team, an important consideration in our acquisition strategy, and one which we believe helps us attract great companies like William Charles as partners. Clients, employees and shareholders alike will benefit from the opportunities created by our combined platforms.”

“The acquisition of William Charles, in combination with the acquisitions of Saiia and the ACC Companies, positions us for long-term growth and value creation,” Roehm said. “We are now well-equipped to capitalize on significant opportunities across the construction market. It is the ideal time for William Charles to join our exceptional team, and we look forward to exploring other great opportunities we have in our pipeline.”

“The William Charles/Ragnar Benson family is extremely excited for this opportunity to expand our footprint in our current markets,” said William Charles president Ben Holmstrom. “We believe strongly that IEA will also provide significant growth prospects for our company in new markets throughout the country. We are thrilled for the opportunities this will bring all of our employees. With offices in both Rockford and Chicago, Illinois, we will continue to provide the high level of service all our customers have come to expect.”

Based on year-to-date figures as of May 2018, William Charles is expected to add approximately $520 million in backlog, $300 million to $330 million in revenue and $18 million to $22 million in Adjusted EBITDA, the news release says. The year-to-date pro forma adjustments to EBITDA include $5.2 million for the anticipated conversion of William Charles’ operating leases to capital leases and $3 million to remove corporate overhead costs that will not continue post-closing.

The cash portion of the purchase price and related fees and expenses will be financed through a $75 million delayed-draw term loan facility as well as balance sheet cash. The acquisition is anticipated to close in the fourth quarter of 2018, subject to customary closing conditions.

Kirkland & Ellis LLP acted as legal counsel to IEA, and HolmstromKennedy was legal counsel to William Charles.

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