The North's main electricity supplier, Viridian, confirmed today that it had agreed to the terms of a £1.6bn (€2.4bn) private equity takeover.
Bahrain-based ElectricInvest, an arm of private equity business Arcapita, will pay a total of 1336p per share for the company.
The bidder said the deal represented an opportunity to achieve “stable returns” from Viridian’s regulated and non-regulated electricity businesses.
Speculation over a takeover sent shares in the Dublin and London-listed firm 14% higher yesterday and the stock was trading up 109p at 1330p today.
Asim Zafar, a director at ElectricInvest, said: “We look forward to working with Viridian’s strong management team in further developing its electricity business in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland as well as growing Viridian’s other activities.”
Arcapita already has a stake in a number of utility businesses in the UK, including a joint venture with power to operate 19 wind farms. It also runs South Staffordshire, a water company serving 1.2 million people, which was acquired in 2004.
Viridian chairman Dipresh Shah said: “Viridian has developed a substantial position in the competitive electricity supply markets on the island, including the significant investment in a new generating plant in the Republic of Ireland.”
Viridian, which also owns Energia and Powerteam, grew out of the former public service electricity supplier in the North (NIE), which was privatised in 1993.
The company reported revenues of £976.8m (€1.4bn) in the year to March 2006, up from £835.4m (€1.2bn) during the same period last year.
It also logged operating profits of £132.4m (€196m), an increase from £119.1m (€176m) in 2005. It boasts assets valued at around £253m (€374m).
Energia runs the Huntstown gas-fired power station, near Dublin, which is capable of supplying 10% of the Republic of Ireland’s power needs.
The group has played a leading role in promoting an all-island electricity market in Ireland, but it the scheme has been delayed by four months.
The scheduled “go-live” date of July 1, 2007 has been put back to November 1 to make sure there are no last-minute hitches with the launch.