ireland sells part of state gas firm
Last Updated : GMT 12:11:47
Arab Today, arab today
Arab Today, arab today

Ireland sells part of state gas firm

Arab Today, arab today

Arab Today, arab today Ireland sells part of state gas firm

Dublin - AFP

Ireland's government on Tuesday said it had agreed to sell part of state gas firm Bord Gais Eireann under a privatisation programme following Dublin's exit from an EU-IMF bailout. The company said in a statement that it would sell its gas and electricity arm Bord Gais Energy to a consortium including British energy giant Centrica for 1.1 billion-euros ($1.5 billion). The consortium also comprises private equity firms Brookfield Renewable Energy Partners and Icon Infrastructure. The deal includes also the sale of Whitegate gas-fired power station. The Irish government will retain ownership of the natural gas supply network. Crisis-hit Ireland was rescued by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund with an 85-billion-euro bailout in November 2010. In December, it became the first eurozone nation to exit an EU/IMF rescue programme, but must implement tax hikes, structural reforms and the sale of state assets under the terms of the bailout package. Energy Minister Pat Rabbitte and the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Brendan Howlin, both welcomed Tuesday's deal. "The commitment made by these buyers to acquire the business is a strong vote of confidence in the Irish energy market, the Irish economy and in the Bord Gais Energy business and its employees," the ministers said in a joint statement. "The sale proceeds will provide additional funding to government to enable further investment in infrastructure and jobs." The transaction, which remains subject to regulatory and merger approvals, is expected to be completed in the second quarter of this year. Under the terms of Dublin's bailout package, it agreed that half the money raised from state assets would go towards paying the country's sizeable national debt. The remainder would be put towards job stimulus programmes, in a country with just under 12 percent of the workforce unemployed. However Dublin has fallen well-short of targets to raise 3.0 billion euros from privatisation measures by halting the sale of a number of assets. It backed away from the sale of its forest harvesting rights, shelved plans to sell its stake in the state electricity company, ESB, and also refused to sell its stake in airliner Aer Lingus to Irish rival Ryanair.

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