800 Bord Gais staff in line for €60,000 windfalls
MORE than 800 Bord Gais staff could each be in line for a windfall of €60,000 each when the sale of its energy division goes ahead.
The sale of the company's consumer division moved a step closer after Minister for Energy and Natural Resources Pat Rabbitte, inset, published legislation to cover the sale of the highly valuable semi-state.
The Gas Regulation Bill 2013 allows the Government to sell the Bord Gais Energy business, but create a separate gas networks subsidiary which will remain in state hands.
Staff at Bord Gais acquired a 3.27pc share in the energy division as part of a deal with unions in 2008 over productivity.
With the business expected to fetch as much as €1.5bn when it is eventually sold, that would in theory mean a payout of just over €60,000 for the company's 800-plus staff.
Even if Bord Gais Energy ends up being sold for around €1bn, the staff shareholders will still receive about €40,000 a head.
That is yet to be finalised, however, as negotiations are continuing between unions and the Government over how the employees' stake will be treated once the company is split in two.
The disposal is a key part of the troika bailout programme, and any deal reached is expected to be finalised by the end of the year.
In a statement, the Government said that half of the proceeds would be "available to fund employment-enhancing projects of a commercial nature".
"The other half, while destined eventually to pay down debt, will, in the first instance, be constituted as a fund to underpin additional lending into Ireland, for example, by the European Investment Bank, in support of further investment in job-creating initiatives," it added.
Mr Rabbitte said he was "pleased" that his proposals for the terms of the sale had been approved by the Government.
"This will facilitate the continued state ownership of the strategically important gas network infrastructure," he continued.
"I will be introducing the bill early in the autumn session, and I look forward to its early enactment by the Oireachtas."