Tolls paved the way for massive global expansion
NATIONAL Toll Roads (NTR) began as a humble operator of toll bridges.
It was founded in 1978 to build the first tolled facility in the country -- the East Link Toll Bridge in Dublin, which proved an enormous success for the company.
It then went on to build the West Link Toll Bridge on the M50. But it has used the massive revenues from motorists to expand into several new business areas, including waste, energy and telecommunications.
It now describes itself as an international renewable energy group, with businesses in Ireland, the UK and North America. Its companies include Arizona-based solar energy firm Stirling Energy Systems (SES), Wind Capital Group in Missouri, and Nebraska's Green Plains Renewable Energy (GPRE), an ethanol producer. NTR's businesses here include Greenstar Waste and Irish Broadband.
Its chairman is Tom Roche Jnr, who co-founded the company with his father, the late Tom Roche Snr.
Mr Roche Jnr said last year that the State's buy-out of the West Link Toll Bridge had decimated the company's toll business in Ireland "albeit at a good price".
"However, despite that, I can't really complain. The family is not poor and NTR is great fun," he told a breakfast briefing at UCD's Smurfit Business School.
In 2009, NTR posted an operating loss of €64.9m for its half-year to the end of September due to lower activity levels in the waste sector and its disposal of the West Link toll.