Friday 28 July 2017

NTR sells off most of its road assets in €50m deal

Maintenance unit is taken by French group Egis Projects

John Mulligan

John Mulligan

UTILITY group National Toll Roads (NTR) has sold most of its remaining road assets in Ireland for €50m, with the operating concession for the East Link toll bridge in Dublin having been offloaded by the group to a Dutch investment fund. The transactions bring to an end a 10-month sale process.

Apart from the East Link and its stake Celtic Roads Group's Dundalk western bypass, which have been sold to DIF Infrastructure II, NTR has also sold its operation and maintenance division to a subsidiary of French group Egis Projects. That includes NTR's shareholdings in North-Link (Dundalk), South-Link (Waterford) and Mid-Link (Portlaoise).

Fresh fundraising for the DIF Infrastructure II entity only recently closed and raised €571m. It targets investments of between €10m and €50m in European assets including public-private partnership projects and renewable energy.

Retaining interest

NTR is retaining its interest in the recently opened Waterford and Portlaoise toll concessions, also operated by the Celtic Roads Group consortium. Those concessions run until 2036 and 2037 respectively.

The East Link toll bridge was the first ever such road in Ireland when it opened in 1984, and it was also NTR's first infrastructure investment in the country. It went on to build the West Link toll road in the capital, which was eventually sold to the state for €600m.

NTR chief executive Jim Barry maintained that the transactions offered "considerable value" to the group's shareholders, and would enable the company to continue its investment in waste and renewable energy sectors.

Earlier this year, NTR sold its Greenstar waste business in the UK for €162m.

Meanwhile, NTR's US-based solar energy development subsidiary, Stirling Energy Systems, has been given the go-ahead by California's Energy Commission (CEC) to construct a more than 700 megawatt solar energy project on desert land in the state.

However, Stirling has also canned plans to build a 250MW scheme in Phoenix, Arizona, after it encountered problems, including securing financing. It was also unable to find a utility buyer for the electricity it hoped to generate at the planned power plant.

Although the CEC has given the green light for the Imperial Valley solar project, Stirling Energy Systems and its sister company Tessera Solar also need the approval of the US Bureau of Land Management, which controls the land on which the project will be constructed. San Diego Gas & Electric has already agreed to buy the output from the plant.

Irish Independent

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