Sale of Bord Gais Energy is shelved due to poor bids
The Irish government has decided not to go ahead with a planned sale of firmus energy's parent company.
Bord Gais Energy was due to be privatised as part of the Republic's bail-out deal with the European Union, but the Dublin government has shelved the plans, claiming bids were too low.
The sale would have helped raise funds for the region's beleaguered economy, but signs of economic revival south of the border, and the impending end of the bail-out scheme at the end of the year, have lessened the urgency for funds. firmus is the company's gas-supplying arm in Northern Ireland, where it serves 64,000 customers. It owns and operates the natural gas pipeline outside Greater Belfast, where it has over 20,800 customers, and also supplies more than 43,500 customers in Greater Belfast.
It was part of the sale package, along with a 445-megawatt power station in Cork and onshore wind generation plants.
It's thought Bord Gais could have fetched €1bn (£833m).
Those that were received were not considered fair value by the Republic's Minister for Energy and Natural Resources Pat Rabbitte.
However, Minister Rabbitte did acknowledge that the significant interest reflected the increased positive international sentiment towards Ireland.
"The department and NewERA will work with Bord Gais to complete the separation of Bord Gais Networks and Bord Gais Energy in accordance with EU energy law, to continue investing in and developing the Bord Gais Energy business and to review options for the future of Bord Gais Energy."
firmus gas supplies 10 towns in Northern Ireland, including Antrim, Templepatrick, Ballyclare, Armagh, Tandragee, Ballymena, Broughshane, Ballymoney, Banbridge, Coleraine, Bushmills, Portstewart, Craigavon, Moira, Lurgan, Portadown, Limavady, Londonderry, Newry, Bessbrook and Warrenpoint.
Its Greater Belfast area includes the city itself, Bangor, Castlereagh, Carrickfergus, Carryduff, Comber, Glengormley, Donaghadee, Holywood, Larne, Lisburn, Mallusk, Newtownabbey and Newtownards.