The Government intends to sell off Bord Gais Energy and some of ESB’s non-strategic power generation capacity as part of the State asset disposal programme agreed under the EU/IMF Programme, and as provided for in the Programme for Government.
The Government has agreed with the Troika sale of state assets up to a value of Eur3 billion based on the guiding principles that there will be no fire sales; integral transmissions and distribution systems will be retained in State ownership and full value will be derived for the State.
Following detailed analysis which identified a range of complex regulatory and legislative issues the Government has decided not to proceed with a sale of a minority stake in ESB as previously signalled. Instead, the Government has decided that alternative asset disposal options will now be pursued. This will include the sale of Bord Gais Eireann’s Energy business, but excluding BGE’s gas transmission and distribution systems and the two gas interconnectors, which will remain in State ownership. Some of ESB’s non-strategic power generation capacity will also be sold.
Consideration will be given to the sale of some assets of Coillte (excluding the sale of land) and the sale of the State’s remaining shareholding in Aer Lingus when market conditions are favourable and at an acceptable price to Government.
In relation to ESB, the Government reaffirms its commitment to the retention of ESB as a vertically integrated utility in State ownership as at present. Work will now proceed on progressing plans for the disposal of these assets.
“When we came into Government, the position was that no money from the disposal of assets could be spent on anything except reducing our debts,” says Brendan Howlin TD, Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform. “I am pleased that following intense engagement the troika has agreed that 1/3 of the proceeds can be used for re-investment in to our economy. This is a substantial change to the Troika’s previous position and will help promote recovery in the economy.”