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Solar firm headed by Ahern facing losses of €1m

COMPANIES

Published 06/10/2011 | 05:00

A solar power company headed up by former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern faces losses of €1m and relies on loans from shareholders to stay in business, according to accounts just filed.

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Accounts filed with the Companies Office revealed that Scientia Solar is facing combined losses of €1m for 2011 and 2012, despite making a modest profit last year. The renewable energy business is seeking new investment to roll out development.

Mr Ahern became chairman of the privately owned Dublin company earlier this year. He was first appointed to the board in July 2010.

Scientia Solar developed and now owns solar power plants in Italy, and is reported to be seeking as much as €20m in fresh investments to finance further expansion.

Investors

Directors are meeting with potential investors and are hopeful of securing funding by the end of the year, according to the accounts just filed. Cash raised will be used as working capital as well as to fund acquisitions.

Representatives of the company were not available for comment yesterday.

Until new finance is found, Scientia Solar is relying on loans of €2.8m from directors and shareholders to continue as a going concern. Despite the size of the debt, the company is not under pressure to repay the loans.

"Directors have received confirmation that shareholder and directors' loans amounting to €2.86m will not be called for repayment for at least one year," according to the directors' report.

Despite being appointed as chairman of the company, Mr Ahern is not listed among the directors who have advanced loans to the business.

The former Taoiseach is not listed as a shareholder. Scientia Solar, which was formerly known as Zontont Ltd, is backed by shareholders, including Frank and Gary Smith who built the €65m Ashleaf shopping centre and own the Submarine Bar in Dublin, Ireland's biggest pub.

Northern Ireland engineering and property player Ivor Dougan is also a backer. Gary Smith and Mr Dougan are directors as well as shareholders.

Scientia Solar has completed and operates three solar farms in Puglia in southern Italy that are connected to the Italian national electricity grid.

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