Published 26/09/2011 | 05:00
•I refer to Emmet Oliver's article concerning the Government's decision to sell a minority stake in the integrated ESB group. The article has a central inaccuracy that I must point out. Emmet seems to be under the impression that the transmission and distribution assets owned by ESB are excluded from the minority sale.
This is incorrect. The Government has decided that a minority stake of the entire ESB group will be sold. However, the Government is determined to retain majority control to ensure that Ireland's strategic interests are not neglected.
Of course, it is true that the Government would obtain greater proceeds if it gave up full control and allowed the destiny of where and how ESB shares were traded and exchanged to be left to international markets. The Government is not doing that. What it is doing is seeking the advice of experts, including NTMA, on how best to construct a process to sell a minority stake in ESB that will raise significant funding for the Exchequer, but that will leave the State firmly in control of the strategic issues regarding security of supply, economic infrastructure, energy efficiency, price competitiveness and decarbonisation insofar as they are dealt with by ESB.