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    Assessing the environmental risks of a global bakery business

    RSK was contracted to support a confidential private equity firm in completing environmental due diligence for the planned divestiture of a business supplying bakery ingredients and frozen and ambient bakery products from 20 production sites in eight European countries and China. RSK’s objective was to establish whether there were any significant environmental liabilities associated with the business that had the potential to affect the sale value, attract regulatory notice or create issues that might affect the future sale process.

    Our approach was to conduct an initial risk-screening exercise of all the sites to identify those with a higher risk profile that would require further site visits to more accurately define any recommended actions and the costs involved in closing out. This was proposed to reduce the overall costs and the time taken to complete the due diligence exercise.

    To identify the highest-risk sites, RSK developed a screening questionnaire for the management of each site. The questionnaire aimed to assess the number of environmental legal breaches or compliance issues linked to statutory fines; the value and type of noted declared legal breaches; the number and type of declared or on-file environmental notices issued with noted in-country regulators; the value of identified remedial costs to deal with declared environmental accidents, incidents, etc.; and the value of identified remedial costs above any specific materiality threshold. The questionnaire results were summarised and collated in a workbook using a simple traffic-light format for risk values: green for low, amber for medium and red for high. It was noted that all the high-risk sites and a selection of the medium-risk sites would be visited, depending on the issues identified.

    However, the client asked RSK to visit all the site locations to complete individual due diligence reports. RSK staff went to all the European sites and a trusted subcontractor partner undertook the site visit in China. The project was managed from the UK. To ensure consistency in the deliverables across the different countries, they were reviewed according to RSK’s quality assurance and control procedures both by the local RSK office and a technical reviewer in the UK. This also ensured technical accuracy and compliance with local requirements.

    The final due diligence reports included the actions planned by the business to address the material issues that RSK had identified. The execution of many of those actions was expected to have been progressed by the time the transaction was completed. RSK has continued to support the transaction process by providing prospective purchasers with expert sessions where they can request further information on the report’s conclusions.

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