ESB drops plan to buy wind energy firm SWS

The ESB is no longer in the running to buy wind energy company SWS Natural Resources.

The West Cork company is the biggest independent wind energy supplier in the country, with 180 megawatts of power in operation and another 160 megawatts to be provided between now and 2011.

The company is owned by Ion Equity, which has a 40% stake, with private investors owning 35%. Anglo Irish Bank owns 15% and the management team 10%.

Ion, regulated by the Financial Regulator, is a leading private equity investor based in London and Dublin.

Its focus is on acquiring and building businesses with an enterprise value between €50m and €500m in this country and Britain.

The news that the ESB is no longer interested was reported by the Sunday Business Post, sister paper of the Evening Echo and Irish Examiner.

It is understood that the seller did not consider the ESB offer sufficient.

The sale on behalf of the energy firm is being handled by the Royal Bank of Canada’s London-based corporate finance division.

It is understood that a number of other bidders are still interested in doing a purchase deal, especially because ‘green’ energy has now become such a big part of government plans to meet this country’s energy needs.

The SWS business is believed to be worth in the region of €800m.

The average cost of building one megawatt is believed to be about €2m.

The purchaser would also take on substantial debt of SWS Natural Resources.

In 2006 SWS opened a major €60m wind farm development near the village of Kilgarvan in Co Kerry.

At that time it said it planned to spend a further €300m on new alternative energy ventures over the next three years.

The 5 megawatt (MW) wind farm, with 120m blade tip height, is capable of supplying green electricity to 30,000 homes.

Article courtesy of The Evening Echo.

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