Bord Gais Energy sold just weeks after failed bids
The Irish Government has agreed to sell firmus energy owner, Bord Gais Energy, for €1.125bn (£95bn), only weeks after withdrawing the company from sale.
It will sell the company to a consortium made up of British Gas-owned Centrica, Brookfield Renewables and iCON Infrastructure.
Firmus Energy supplies natural gas to more than 64,000 customers across Northern Ireland. It owns and operates the natural gas pipeline outside of greater Belfast, where it has over 20,800 customers. Firmus energy also supplies more than 43,500 customers in greater Belfast.
The Irish government and bidders are now in exclusive final stage negotiations with the buyers and were given the go-ahead to finalise and sign a Share Purchase Agreement – a contract to buy the company.
Bids for the company were said to have increased only weeks after the sale process was pulled.
Last month the Irish Minister for Communications and Energy Pat Rabbitte announced he was withdrawing Bord Gais from sale as bids for the company failed to hit the government's price target.
"I said at the time that there wasn't any question of selling state assets at bargain basement prices," Mr Rabbitte told RTE news last night.
"So we rejected the bids at that price, but all three bidders came back and we selected our preferred bidder."
"I think it represents a vote of confidence in the Irish economy," he said.
"This is a very significant player with 40,000 employees worldwide."
It is understood the government was originally expecting up to €1.4bn for Bord Gais. Three formal bids stalled after only hitting the €1bn mark.
It is understood that Bord Gais has begun contacting staff at the state-owned company to update them on how the sale will affect their jobs.
Most of Bord Gais is to be sold, however, the network that carries gas across the country will not be sold, because it is regarded as vital national infrastructure.
Mr Rabbitte told RTE that "the jobs are secure" at the company and that the proceeds of the sale will go towards job creation in the country.