BRITISH energy giant SSE will probably be outbid by rivals looking to buy Bord Gais Energy, SSE's outgoing chief executive has said.
SSE, which owns Airtricity, has expressed an interest in the energy wing of Bord Gais, but departing chief Ian Marchant said the price would have to be "reasonably cheap" for it to make sense for the Scottish firm.
Bord Gais said in February that it had begun the process to sell the company's electricity generating assets, including wind farms and the Whitegate power station in Cork, as well as the retail arm of the business that sells gas and electricity to 900,000 customers.
"To make sense for SSE, I'm afraid it has to be reasonably cheap," Mr Marchant, who steps down as chief executive at the end of this month, told the Irish Independent.
"That's not good for the Irish population. You want the highest possible price.
"We'll take part but we don't need to do it, so we will be extremely disciplined financially and I hope for Ireland's sake that somebody else buys it at a much higher price than we would be prepared to."
The sale is expected to be concluded by the end of the year, with Bord Gais Energy remaining on track to become the first state asset to be auctioned off under the 'New Era' privatisation scheme.
It is expected to fetch in the region of €1bn to €1.5bn and is being sold under orders from the troika of bailout lenders.
The deadline for bids is next Wednesday.
SSE marked its fifth anniversary in Ireland at its new corporate Irish headquarters in south Co Dublin this week, stating it had invested the equivalent of €1m every day for the last five years, bringing total investment here to more than €2bn since 2008, with more than 1,500 people employed.
Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte, who visited the office, acknowledged the company's continued commitment to and confidence in the Irish economy.