British fund Ocean 14 Capital is taking a bite out of the green mosquito Aion in Aker in a price deal for the two-year-old plastic recycling company for NOK 100 million.
The atmosphere here is electrifying right now, says Aion CEO Rona Hogg Khoury.
– This is a milestone for us. We are very pleased to bring in an international owner, as we believe that the really big markets for Aion are outside of Norway. Chris and his team have the network and knowledge that now allows us to go from inception to ‘expansion’.
We are a hungry but humble little gang that is now entering a whole new phase.
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Ocean 14 Capital invests in companies working towards the United Nations’ 14th sustainability goal, which relates specifically to life at sea, and is particularly interested in solutions that prevent plastics from skewed.
– We met the team at Aion a year ago and tracked down and got to know them. “We see huge potential for this business model and believe it can have a drastic impact,” Barnes tells E24.
The main areas for us are solutions for collecting, sorting and recycling plastic and finding companies where this can be scaled up and contribute significantly to doing something about the crisis we are going through, he continues.
The UK investment fund enters the company with a convertible loan of NOK 40 million, along with current principal owner Aker Biomarine. A convertible loan means that the loan can be converted into shares in the company.
Chris G. Barnes of Oceans 14 will join Aion as chairman of the board, and the fund will have a 17 percent stake after the deal. The fund will assume operational control and play an active role in the further development of the company.
The deal values the company, which was founded in the winter of 2020, at 9.5 million euros, roughly NOK 100 million. During the same period, the company grew from two to 14 employees.
Looking towards the UK
Aion will now enter a phase of overseas growth.
The UK is a major market after Norway, and we will now explore our channels and networks there, says Barnes.
First and foremost, we’re talking about food and restaurants like Marks & Spencer, Iceland, Sainsbury and McDonalds.
– In January 2021, there was talk of listing Aion in a year’s time, how are these plans now?
– From Aker’s point of view, listing ambition will always be there, but it’s more about timing, says Hugh Khoury.
The ambition here now is to build a solid and profitable company. If we eventually get to a point where we see that we want to develop faster and better by being on the list, that’s an assessment that the board should make, Barnes says.
Makes new products out of old plastic
Aion’s business model revolves around recycling plastic waste, or so-called circular creation of all resources that go astray. The goal is to systematically control waste streams in new production. In addition, the company collects data at all levels through a digital platform, which will ensure traceability and documentation of the environmental impact of Aion customers.
Plastic waste such as nets, trawls and flour bags are strong, high-quality materials, which can be used to produce new products, such as serving trays and shopping baskets.
The company is also working in parallel at the other end to get players, primarily in the grocery market and hotels and restaurants and eateries, to demand products made from recycled materials. Full material traceability, across the value chain, is at the heart of Aion’s business model.
The company has already entered into an agreement with McDonald’s, which means that all serving trays in Norway are made from recycled plastic from the marine industry. The company also sells them as food contact circular products for the Sodexo canteen chain, pallets for Skretting Nutreco, as well as serving trays for DSS, among others.
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