Belfast Telegraph

CEO linked to Ulster Rugby role steps down after deal

London-based investment fund acquires Simple Power

Rugby link: Philip Rainey
Rugby link: Philip Rainey
Ryan McAleer

By Ryan McAleer

A former Irish international linked to the top post at Ulster Rugby has stepped down from his current role as chief executive of wind energy firm Simple Power after its sale, Business Telegraph understands.

Philip Rainey, who has headed the Heron Bros-owned company for over six years, is understood to be on the way out of Simple Power following its acquisition by London-based investment fund Foresight.

The value of the deal, which includes 52 stand-alone wind turbines, has not been disclosed.

Set up in 2010 by the Draperstown construction family the Herons, Simple Power holds the largest portfolio of single wind turbines in Northern Ireland.

It's understood Mr Rainey will be the sole departure from the small management team.

The former full-back, who was capped for Ireland, famously kicked Ulster to a Ravenhill victory over Australia in 1984.

His name has been among a number of senior business figures in the mix for the chief executive job at Ulster Rugby since the departure of Shane Logan after a tumultuous final year.

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Belfast Harbour Commissioners chairman Dr David Dobbin, is filling the role on an interim basis until headhunter firm 4c Executive makes an appointment

Mr Rainey could not be reached for comment yesterday.

According to its accounts, Simple Power posted pre-tax losses in the past two years.

It posted net liabilities of £5.7m in the 12 months to July 31, 2017.

The same report revealed that Heron Bros Holdings Ltd held an 87.71% stake in the business.

Yesterday Neasa Quigley of law firm Carson McDowell, who represented Heron Bros in the sale, described the transaction as "significant". "The sale is testament to the quality of the portfolio developed and operated by Simple Power with the backing of its largest shareholder, award-winning local construction company Heron Bros," she said.

"The Department for the Economy has identified extensive challenges to the local energy sector which will demand significant change and investment in the short, medium and long term."

Foresight said the 52 wind turbines, which are OFGEM accredited, qualify for participation in the recently launched all-island integrated single electricity market (I-SEM) .

James Taggart, investment manager at the Foresight Group, said: "Simple Power Ltd's wind portfolio is a fantastic acquisition with a volume of well positioned and operational single wind turbines around Northern Ireland.

"The portfolio has shown strong performance to date. We look forward to working closely with the Simple Power management team to continue the portfolio's success and to further establish Foresight as a leader in the renewable energy sector."

Richard Masters of law firm Pinsent Masons, who represented Foresight in the transaction, said: "It is encouraging to see a top tier investor such as Foresight increasing and diversifying its portfolio within Northern Ireland's renewable energy infrastructure.

"It highlights the point that attractive opportunities for investment are out there."

Belfast Telegraph