Sale of Bord Gáis Energy revived

Sale of Bord Gáis Energy revived

The sale of a division of Bord Gáis is back on the table about two weeks after the Government gave up the hunt for a buyer.

It is understood negotiations have been revived with UK energy giant Centrica with the date for Ireland’s exit from the bailout three days away.

The sale of Bord Gáis Energy, the retail, trading and assets division of the state-owned company, had been offered to international energy companies and investment groups as part of the sale of state assets under the bailout programme.

The Government had been pushing for €1.4bn but failed to find a buyer. It had been earmarked for sale alongside harvesting rights for Coillte forests, which has also been dropped, and a 25% stake in Aer Lingus.

The Department for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, refused to comment on negotiations.

But it is understood talks with Centrica, which owns British Gas, have been revived with the company interested in a section of Bord Gáis Networks.

Another company would be needed to come on board to complete the sale but a partnership with Tenaga Nasional, the Malaysian state power firm, is not on the table.

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 Móna 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 €3bn.

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

The Bord Gáis 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 Gáis said three bids were received several days before the sale was pulled last month.

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