Company Report: Firmus Energy
Firmus Energy is the main supplier of natural gas in the ‘10 towns’ area of Northern Ireland, which is essentially all the areas connected to the grid outside Greater Belfast. Since 2005, Firmus has had a licence to develop the natural gas network in the area, ranging from the North West down through Ballymena and Antrim as well as on to Newry.
The continuing extension of the natural gas supply has been supported by a major capital investment programme, costing in excess of £11m in each recent year.
The number of new connections in 2016 was 4,287, nearly 25% more than the 3,882 in 2015.
Firmus Energy was sold by Bord Gais at the end of June 2014.
It is now a wholly owned subsidiary of DEKA Energy Enterprises, which is, in turn, a subsidiary of an infrastructure specialist company registered in Guernsey in the Channel Islands.
The market for the supply of natural gas has been opened to other suppliers alongside Firmus.
Competitors were permitted to supply larger industrial and commercial users from October 2012.
Then in April 2015 the market was opened to competitor suppliers seeking SME and domestic customers.
The business has enjoyed significant operating and pre-tax profits in each recent year. Pre-tax profits in 2016 were over 42% of the revenue earned from energy sales.
Dividends of £3m were paid to the parent company shareholder in 2015. This was followed by dividends of £5m in 2016.
After the payment of dividends and company taxation, the retained post-tax profits were added to the balance sheet value of shareholders’ funds, which have risen sharply.