Viridian owner considers sale of Irish energy business

Private equity group bought Energia parent in 2016 and refinanced debt last year

An Energia Generation logo sits on a sign outside the Huntstown gas power station, operated by Energia Group, a unit of Viridian. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

An Energia Generation logo sits on a sign outside the Huntstown gas power station, operated by Energia Group, a unit of Viridian. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

 

The private equity owner of power generator Viridian is considering a sale of the business, people with knowledge of the matter said.

I Squared Capital, the infrastructure-focused investment firm led by former Morgan Stanley executives, is sounding out potential buyers to gauge their interest in Viridian, said the people, who asked not to be identified as the information is private.

I Squared acquired Viridian for about €1 billion in 2016.

Viridian operates both gas-fired power plants and wind generation assets. Its subsidiaries, Energia Group and Power NI, account for about 27 per cent of combined business electricity sales in Ireland, according to its website.

The company employs about 630 staff and has an annual revenue of around €1.5 billion.

Any sale would add to the $180 billion of utility deals announced since the start of the year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Deliberations are at an early stage, and there’s no certainty they will lead to a transaction, the people said. Representatives for I Squared and Viridian declined to comment.

The Belfast-based energy group refinanced debt last September in a move that yielded a €60 million dividend up to its owners. It redeemed in full €540 million of existing bonds issued in 2015 and replaced them with the equivalent of €600 million of cheaper notes, denominated in sterling and euro.

The original debt had been due for repayment in 2020 but the new notes are not redeemable until 2024 and 2025.

I Squared, which was founded in 2012, said recently that it had raised $7 billion for its second fund with an eye to invest in energy, utilities, transport and telecommunications deals worldwide. Its recent deals include the purchase of TIP Trailer Services, a trailer-leasing business acquired from China’s embattled HNA Group Co.

Last year, it bought the fixed-line assets of billionaire Li Ka-shing’s Hong Kong telecommunications business for 14.5 billion Hong Kong dollars. – Bloomberg