Wingate Partners Deal Embraces Environment –

Dallas-based buyout firm Wingate Partners last month acquired the U.S. operations of ENSR International, an environmental consulting and engineering company, from German parent RWE Umwelt GmbH.

Michael Decker, a principal at Wingate, declined to disclose a transaction price, but said his firm committed $16 million in equity for the acquisition, while Fleet National Bank led the debt financing. The deal includes an option to acquire ENSR’s European operations.

Wingate teamed with ENSR’s management to buy the Acton, Mass.-based company. The firm will act as an “enabler” for ENSR, Decker said, providing it with equity and incentive programs that will allow for creativity and “forward thinking.”

Also, Decker said he anticipates at least one acquisition soon and a doubling or tripling of the company’s revenue in approximately five years. In 1999, the company generated approximately $170 million in revenue.

ENSR provides services that help corporate clients meet environmental goals and requirements, including those associated with risk assessment, due diligence, air quality, hazardous waste and process engineering.

Wingate will lead ENSR to focus on customer retention and a higher marketshare, especially among private clients, Decker said. It is possible to have a much higher marketshare in that segment particularly, versus looking at the entire environmental industry and trying to become a number-one player, he said.

Wingate is in the final stages of investing its second fund, which closed on $130 million in 1994. The firm’s debut $70 million fund is fully invested.

Decker said Wingate is not yet looking to raise a third fund.

“We are focusing on selective and diligent placement of the funds we have,” he said.

The firm historically closes one or two deals per year. Before ENSR, Wingate made a $37 million investment in Ft. Worth-based Kevco, a publicly traded distributor of manufactured housing parts.