Belfast Telegraph

Viridian claims no decision made on market flotation

By Clare Weir

The Belfast-based company which owns electricity supply firm Power NI has remained tight-lipped on rumours of a stock market flotation. Financial news agency Reuters had said the firm was preparing for a flotation, likely to be in London, indicating that a deal could give Viridian a value of about £1bn.

Since 2006 the firm has been owned by Arcapita, a Bahrain-based bank, which Reuters claimed had hired the investment bank JP Morgan to lead the share listing.

However, a spokesman for Viridian said that the company had made no decision to proceed with an Initial Public Offering (IPO). "Viridian Group regularly works with a range of banks, including JP Morgan, to assist with financing and strategic options," he said.

Operating through its Energia and Power NI businesses, Viridian, established after the privatisation of Northern Ireland Electricity, also owns two gas-fired generation plants at Huntstown in Co Dublin.

Viridian reported earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation of £99m in the year to the end of March on £1.6bn of revenue. Net debt stood at £582.7m.

Energia Group, which has offices in Dublin, Galway, Cork, Belfast and Omagh, owns a number of consented wind farms, including the 12 turbine wind farms at Long Mountain, Antrim, and Clondermot in Londonderry, which, when fully operational, generate enough energy to power 33,000 homes.

Economist and energy market analyst John Simpson said he wouldn't rule out a flotation or sale of some of the Viridian stable.

"It would be no surprise if Arcapita now thought it could sell the Viridian assets and get some return on their investment," he said. "Power NI will not be a major profit earner for Viridian as it is a regulated company, but Energia is more susceptible to market forces and might be more attractive to a potential buyer."

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