Belfast Telegraph

Bord Gais Energy sell-off abandoned

The sale of a division of Bord Gais has been abandoned after no buyer was willing to stump up the asking price.

Bord Gais Energy, the retail, trading and assets division of the state-owned company, was offered to international energy companies and investment groups with the Government pushing for 1.4 billion euro.

It had been earmarked for sale under the bailout loan programme alongside harvesting rights for Coillte forests, which has also been dropped, and a 25% stake in Aer Lingus.

Pat Rabbitte, Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, said none of the final bids for Bord Gais Energy were at an acceptable level.

"The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Brendan Howlin) and I have been clear from the outset of the offer process that Bord Gais Energy would only be sold if a sale price was achieved which fully recognises the inherent value of the business," he said.

Mr Rabbitte said there had been significant interest from a broad range of potential international investors.

He said this reflected the positive international sentiment towards Ireland but warned that current conditions in the power and commodity markets were not favourable.

Among those interested or approached where energy group Viridian, private equity group Blackstone and Malaysian state power firm Tenaga Nasiona

The sale was being overseen by the New Era unit of the National Treasury Management Agency.

Elsewhere, the sale of about one million acres of state-owned forest was abandoned back in June with a decision taken to merge Coillte with Bord na Mona to develop commercial bio-energy and forestry interests.

The Government has repeatedly said its Aer Lingus shares will only be sold when the demand is there.

The sale of state assets was suggested on the back of the 2010 EU-IMF Troika bailout to raise an estimated 3 billion euro.

Some 150 million euro from sales was earmarked for road repairs, new school buildings and home insulation projects.

The Bord Gais Energy sale was designed to ensure the transmission system and networks owned by the company remained in state hands.

It included the 445 megawatt Whitegate gas power station, opened in November 2010, and its renewable wind energy sites which are big enough to power nearly 180,000 homes.

Bord Gais said three bids were received on Monday.

"However following close analysis of the bids, the Government has decided that none of them represent an acceptable offer for the business," it said.

"The company will now work with the Government to review future options for the energy business."

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