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Bernhard Capital-led group buys AWT

An investor group led by Bernhard Capital Partners Management LP has acquired Ascension Wastewater Treatment, a private sewer utility operator in Louisiana.

An investor group led by Bernhard Capital Partners Management LP has acquired Ascension Wastewater Treatment, a private sewer utility operator in Louisiana. No financial terms were disclosed.


BATON ROUGE, La., April 9, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Today, a group of investors led by Bernhard Capital Partners Management, LP (“Bernhard Capital”), a service and infrastructure-focused private equity management firm, announced the acquisition of Ascension Wastewater Treatment (“AWT”), the largest private sewer utility operator in Louisiana.

Immediately following the acquisition, Bernhard Capital announced it is committing to a two-month rebate for all AWT customers to assist them in navigating the challenges and economic hardships of the COVID-19 pandemic. This represents an average rebate of $90 per customer over the two-month billing cycle. In total, it will credit approximately $1.5 million to AWT customers. Additionally, Bernhard Capital is donating thousands of protective face masks to Our Lady of the Lake Ascension to aid in the hospital’s ongoing response to the pandemic.

“As investors, we have a social obligation to the communities we serve,” said Jim Bernhard, partner at Bernhard Capital. “We see no better way to help our customers, and the Ascension Parish community, than to provide some relief for their monthly obligations and needs at a time when families, small businesses and local hospitals are being so terribly impacted by this pandemic.”

“Our family has lived in Ascension Parish since 1971, and we have been in business here since 1979,” said Tom Pertuit, CEO of AWT. “We are friends with many of the people we serve, and it is our honor to support and help our customers during this challenging time.”

The acquisition will help bring improved sewer infrastructure and additional resiliency measures to AWT’s customer base of nearly 17,000 residents while expanding services to other communities.

“It’s imperative, now more than ever, to optimize utilities for delivering services as efficiently as possible without sacrificing quality,” said Jeff Jenkins, partner at Bernhard Capital. “We appreciate the hard work of the Louisiana Public Service Commission in reviewing the transaction to ensure it is in the public interest. With this review and acquisition now complete, we will work to expand AWT’s sizable footprint and identify new opportunities for improving utility services in other communities throughout Louisiana and the U.S.”

“Delivering exceptional service to our customers remains our highest priority,” said Pertuit. “Aligning our organization with Bernhard Capital allows us to leverage the firm’s decades of experience, institutional knowledge and readily available resources into enhancing our services and infrastructure – helping to ensure our operations remain consistent, efficient and affordable.”

Initial plans for the acquisition include expanding into other communities with critical environmental and infrastructure needs with a focus on improving community resiliency and utility service delivery.

Founded in 1994 as a small, family-owned, sewer utility company, Ascension Wastewater Treatment has grown into the largest privately-owned sewer utility company in Louisiana. AWT prides itself on delivering healthy water back into the environment while maintaining strict adherence to all local, state and federal regulations. In 2013, AWT was named Private System of the Year for Outstanding Operations and Maintenance by the Louisiana Rural Water Association for its “dedication to helping to maintain a cleaner environment.”

Bernhard Capital Partners is a service and infrastructure-focused private equity management firm established in 2013 by Jim Bernhard, Jeff Jenkins and a team of experienced private-equity professionals. Bernhard Capital seeks to create sustainable value by leveraging its founding partners’ experience in acquiring, operating and growing services businesses. Bernhard Capital portfolio companies include Ascension Wastewater Treatment, Atlas Technical Consultants, Bernhard Energy Solutions, Brown and Root, Charah Solutions, Epic Piping, The Lemoine Company and United Utility.