Bord Gáis to publish memorandum for bidders in April


State-owned Bord Gáis is set to publish a memorandum providing key information to prospective bidders for its energy business next April.

The group is selling Bord Gáis Energy, which supplies natural gas and electricity to consumers and business, as part of the overall disposal of State-owned assets announced last year by the Government.

The group and its advisers are due to produce a formal memorandum outlining the business and assets that will be sold, and the risks and liabilities that come with them.

A more formal bidding process for the business, valued at about €1 billion, is likely to begin following that. The sale is still on schedule to go through this year.

The Government announced its intention to sell Bord Gáis Energy in February 2012. Both the group itself and State agency NewEra began the process of recruiting advisers in the closing months of last year.

It has also been confirmed that leading suitor British group Centrica has hired commercial law firm Arthur Cox and Goodbody Corporate Finance to advise on the process.

The utility, which owns British Gas, is likely to face opposition from a number of quarters.

SSE, formerly Scottish and Southern Energy, which owns one of Bord Gáis’s competitors, Airtricity, is understood to be interested in at least running the rule over its rival.

Centrica has long been regarded as one of the more likely buyers for Bord Gáis Energy and is known to have signalled its interest in buying it long before the Government made its formal announcement on the disposal of State assets last year.

The two businesses have similar profiles, although Bord Gáis Energy is smaller.

Bord Gáis Energy consists of a gas-fired 450-megawatt (MW) power plant, wind farms with the capacity to generate 235MW of electricity, with a similar capacity under construction, and 900,000 or so gas and electricity customers.

Last year, Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin suggested the company could be worth between €1 billion and €1.4 billion, although industry sources are sceptical about the prospects of it selling at the upper end of this estimate.

Centrica operates eight gas-fired power plants, owns a stake in a number of nuclear generators and owns and operates a series of offshore and onshore wind farms in Britain.

It has a large home-services business and a electricity and gas trading operation. It also has interests in the US, Trinidad and Europe.

The State is retaining ownership of Bord Gáis Networks, which owns Ireland’s natural gas network and its interconnectors with Britain, as it considers those assets strategically important.

Lawyers McCann FitzGerald and Royal Canadian Bank are advising Bord Gáis. Law firm A&L Goodbody and Barclays Capital are advising NewEra.