‘The Irish Times’ Business Person of the Month: Fergal Leamy

Coillte chief oversaw sale of stake in four wind farms for €136m

State forestry company chief executive Fergal Leamy has been chosen as The Irish Times Business Person of the Month for September, an award run in association with KPMG.

Coillte sold its stake in four wind farms to Dublin-listed Greencoat Renewables for €136 million early in September, beating a target price of €125 million that the State company set for the assets when it put them on the market in March.

Greencoat agreed to buy Coillte's 50 per cent stakes in wind farms at Raheenleagh, Co Wicklow; Cloosh Valley, Co Galway; and Castlepool, Co Cork;, and 25 per cent of Sliabh Bawn wind farm, Co Roscommon. Between them they can generate up to 105 megawatts (MW) of electricity.

Coillte invested €25 million in the wind farms over the last four years. Including the debt used to fund their development, the deal put a combined “enterprise value” of €281 million on the businesses.


State windfall

After confirming the deal, Mr Leamy confirmed that the State would share in the windfall as Coillte planned to increase the dividend paid to the Government next year as a result of the sale.

Mr Leamy took over as chief executive of Coillte in 2015. He joined from private equity firm, Terra Firma, where he was chief executive of an Australian portfolio business, Consolidated Pastoral Company.

Before that he worked with Irish food group, Greencore, in the US and previously with consultants, McKinsey & Co. He is a graduate of University College Dublin and IMD Business School in Switzerland.