The bidding war for EMC Holdings, a South Korean waste management company, is heating up after numerous potential buyers submitted preliminary offers.

About 15 bidders participated in the first round of bidding on June 4 to submit non-binding offers for a 100 percent stake in the company, sources said. It is being sold by private equity firm Affirma Capital through Citi Global Market Securities and Standard Chartered Securities. More investors are also expected to submit belated bids.

The bidders included major private equity firms, global infrastructure funds and strategic industry players at home and abroad, according to sources. The deal managers will announce the shortlisted bidders within the coming week.

The offers came after a successful sale of Korea Environment Technology (Koentec). The waste processor, owned by Macquarie PE, drew preliminary bids from more than 10 potential buyers in April, followed by four binding offers in the final round of bidding in May. Macquarie PE ultimately agreed on June 4 to sell its stake in the company to a consortium of IS Dongseo and E&F Private Equity.

EMC has an edge over Koentec because it provides services that include not only landfill and incineration but also wastewater treatment, operating across all value chains in the sector. EMC’s water treatment facilities are the largest in the country.

Affirma Capital, which was formerly Standard Chartered Private Equity, bought a controlling stake in Kolon Water & Energy in 2016 before founding EMC as a holding company that completed six bolt-on acquisitions in the waste management sector to become what it is today. The company is said to have recorded revenue of 380.8 billion ($317 million) won for 2019.

EMC’s earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) stood at 82.2 billion won in the same period, with cash and cash equivalents of 58.5 billion won at the end of 2019. The Koentec deal priced the target at an EV/EBITDA multiple of around 14 times. If this can be used as a reference, EMC could be valued at more than 1 trillion won. (Reporting by Hee-yeon Han)

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