Viridian lines up adviser Macquarie on Bord Gais bid
Energia owner Viridian has intensified its efforts to buy Bord Gais Energy, the retail arm of the state-owned utility group that could fetch as much as €1.4bn.
Viridian, which trades as Energia in the retail power market here, operates two gas-fuelled generating stations in Ireland, both of which are in north Dublin.
It has about a 28pc share of the all-island electricity and gas market and supplies energy to more than 60,000 businesses in Ireland. It does not currently target residential customers here, but recently said it had the capability to do so either this year or in 2014. Viridian has 584,000 residential customers in the North through its Power NI unit.
Viridian also has the contract to power all the street lighting in the Republic. Reports suggest that the company, which is partly owned by the Bahrain-based Arcapita group, has engaged Australia-headquartered financial group Macquarie to advise it on a bid for the retail and power generation arm of Bord Gais Energy.
A spokesman for Viridian declined to comment. Bord Gais has still to call for second-round bids. The Government has said the business will be sold before the end of the year.
There has been intense interest in the Bord Gais Energy business. Companies from around the world have expressed an interest in it, with the UK's Centrica and Malaysia's Tenaga Nasional among those firms that have submitted bids.
It has been speculated that France-based GDF Suez and Germany's E.ON could also be in the mix for the Irish assets.
While Arcapita has been in severe financial difficulty, the Viridian business is on a sounder footing.
In March last year, Arcapita Bank filed for bankruptcy protection in the US after it failed to refinance a $1.1bn (€850m) loan that was about to fall due.
Viridian refinanced its own balance sheet with a €120m cash injection from Arcapita just days before the bankruptcy protection was sought.
Viridian is no longer financially dependent on Arcapita and in May bought back about £40m (€46m) of high-yield bonds using cash its business generated in the last financial year.
Last month, Viridian said that a reorganisation plan for Arcapita that would see it emerge soon from bankruptcy would not have any impact on the day-to-day running of Viridian, Energia or Power NI.
Energia delivered revenue of £996.6m in the 12 months to the end of March, down from £1.02bn a year earlier.
Energia's pro-forma earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) declined to £76.9m from £85.9m.
On a group basis, Viridian's revenue fell to £1.6bn from £1.74bn, while pro-forma EBITDA fell to £102.6m from £111.3m.