Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland electricity firm NIE to be sold for £1bn

The owner of Northern Ireland Electricity (NIE) has agreed to sell the network to a Republic of Ireland firm in a deal worth more than £1 billion.



The sale should be completed by the end of the year, subject to all conditions being met. The NIE Group employs around 1,300 staff.

As part of the acquisition, ESB will also acquire certain associated companies of NIE, including NIE Powerteam Limited and Powerteam Electrical Services (UK) Limited, which provide electrical construction and maintenance services.

ESB will also assume obligations of the NIE Group, including those under a £175 million Eurobond. NIE's regulated asset base at March 31 was £1,007 million.

ESB chief executive Padraig McManus said: "This acquisition demonstrates ESB's continued ambition to grow our business in the rapidly changing energy sector on this island. NIE is a well-run, efficient business and will continue to operate on that basis.

"ESB is fully committed to delivering the significant investment in Northern Ireland's transmission and distribution networks that will be required to deliver our common energy sustainability policy objectives over the coming years and we believe that customers in Northern Ireland will benefit from this transaction in the longer term."

Viridian Group is owned by Bahrain investment bank Arcapita.

Group chairman Patrick Haren said the transaction represents an important milestone. He said: "It allows the group's regulated network activities to further their growth under new ownership. The employees of the NIE Group can feel proud of recent achievements and we wish them well for the future. Under Arcapita's ownership, the remaining group will be focused on its very significant generation and supply activities."

Completion of the transaction is subject to a number of conditions, including those relating to Irish and UK competition clearances and a refinancing of the Viridian Group's existing debt.

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