NTR criticised over plans to invest in European wind assets

One51 representative at agm questions firm’s ability to execute ‘high-risk’ strategy

NTR chairman Tom Roche at the company’s agm in Dublin yesterday. Photograph: Frank Miller

NTR chairman Tom Roche at the company’s agm in Dublin yesterday. Photograph: Frank Miller

NTRTom Roche

Mr Roche said the board “remains committed” to this strategy, which would involve NTR making an equity investment of €50 million in projects in Ireland, the UK and “potentially further afield”.

He said NTR would also shortly carry out a review of its US wind assets, and “may commence a formal sales process” that could lead to them being off-loaded if a “satisfactory price” can be achieved.

Mr Roche’s comments were made in advance of stinging criticism from various shareholders over NTR’s recent performance, and its investment plans. One51, which owns 23.6 per cent of NTR, and Pageant Holdings, which owns 10 per cent, were both highly critical of its strategy and called for its US wind assets to be sold and for a liquidity event to follow to allow shareholders to cash out of the company.

On the proposed EU investment strategy, One51 representative Barry Devereux said: “We don’t have confidence in the company’s ability to execute this high-risk, long-term strategy.”

On the sale of its US wind assets, Mr Devereux said: “We are concerned about the statement by the company last Friday that it is merely exploring the sale of the US business. We need to get on with that while the going is good and not delay any sale by procrastination and over-cautious deliberation and so lose real value in the process.”

It is understood that One51 chief executive Alan Walsh, who is a non-executive director of NTR, made his company’s position known to his fellow directors at a board meeting in advance of the AGM and excused himself from the remainder of the discussion.

Pageant was equally critical of NTR and questioned its relationship with Woodford Capital, a Roche family investment vehicle that owns 38 per cent of NTR.

Exit strategy

Brian Gilligan

Speaking after the meeting, NTR chief executive Rosheen McGuckian said it was not “dragging” its heels on selling the US assets.

“Our job at NTR is to ensure that we do the right thing for all shareholders, both for those who wish to stay and those who wish to leave,” she said.