ESB’s takeover bid gets green light

THE ESB’s €1.25 billion takeover of Northern Ireland Electricity (NIE) has been approved by the Competition Authority, three months after it was agreed between the two parties.

The authority said it had reached its decision following discussions with firms, government departments and regulators on both sides of the border; as well as Britain’s Office of Fair Trading, the Commission for Energy Regulation here and the Northern Ireland Authority for Utility Regulation.

The authority’s concern had been the potential for the ESB to use the deal to acquire and use commercially sensitive information, available to NIE, in order to “prevent, restrict or distort competition in the generation and supply of electricity on the island of Ireland”.

However, it said the ESB had replied it would not request any such information from NIE. The transaction has angered Unionist politicians in the North, who recently wrote to the Taoiseach, complaining that the deal amounted to the purchase of a key component of the North’s national infrastructure.


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