State to use €600m Bord Gáis proceeds for jobs

The Government is set to re-invest €600m from the Bord Gáis Energy sale into projects which are capable of creating jobs and generating a commercial return.

Government sources last night said SMEs, public-private partnership projects, and infrastructural improvements will all benefit when the sale is completed early next year.

Yesterday, Energy Minister Pat Rabbitte denied that Bord Gáis was sold at bargain basement price — the €1.125bn agreed was below the anticipated €1.4bn when the sell-off was temporarily abandoned three weeks ago.

The company, minus its transmission network, will be sold to a consortium comprising British Gas-owned Centrica (which serves over 14m homes in the UK), Canada’s Brookfield renewables, and London’s based iCON Infrastructure.

Mr Rabbitte said the sale represented “a vote of confidence” in the economy. He said some of the €1.125bn would be used to pay off national debt but over half would be reinvested in jobs. The €600m earmarked for jobs would not go directly to the exchequer but into the recently announced Strategic Investment Fund which already has €6.4bn from the National Pension Reserve Fund.

Other than the pipe network most of the rest of the company will be sold including its 900,000 customer base, the 445MW Whitegate gas power station, and renewable wind energy sites capable of powering 180,000 homes.

The sale of state assets was suggested by the previous government on the back of the 2010 EU-IMF troika bailout to raise an estimated €3bn.

While the National Lottery has been sold along with some ESB interests, the sale of Coillte forestry rights has been abandoned and the disposal of the Government’s shares in Aer Lingus have been put on ice.

Last night, Fianna Fáil claimed a key state asset was being sold off well below market value and it questioned the timing of the announcement, just days before Ireland exits the EU/IMF bailout.


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