Coillte, Bord na Mona part merge

Commercial semi-state forestry company Coillte is to partially merge with Bord na Móna, it was announced yesterday.

Following a review by state agency NewERA, it has been decided that a partial merger of the two commercial semi state bodies would be of benefit to the State and the two companies in the medium term.

The merger will focus on areas of overlap, including biomass, wind energy and tourism.

Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney said the decision was the result of extensive research by NewERA.

“A joint venture between the two companies will manage their common business activities in biomass, wind energy, shared services, and recreation and tourism.

The decision will maximise the levels of benefit to the State and the two companies in the medium term,” the minister said.

“This decision is the culmination of an in-depth analysis undertaken by NewERA, and the relevant departments on behalf of the Government and it also included input from both companies,” he added.

The decision came after Energy and Natural Resources Minister Pat Rabbitte secured Cabinet approval for the proposal jointly put forward by Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin and Mr Coveney.

A new biomass business named BioEnergy Ireland and a wind business initially comprising two Coillte windfarms will be established via the part merger.

Coillte yesterday welcomed the news, saying that it is fully committed to the new joint venture.

“Coillte believes that today’s decision represents a practical approach to delivering additional value for the State as shareholder. Coillte is committed to implementing the new joint venture, which will focus on capturing synergies in wind energy, biomass supply, shared services and green tourism,” a statement read.

The government first raised the idea of merging the two organisations in June 2013 when the planned sale of Coillte’s harvesting rights was called off. The trade union representing Coillte employees, Impact last year warned that a merger could lead to as many as 100 job losses and leave Coillte with “a small and relatively weak voice within the new entity”. Mr Coveney concluded: “Today’s decision allows Coillte to focus on its core activities in forestry and operating its board mills while allowing the company to harness those areas of synergy it has with Bord na Móna.

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