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Gazprom rules out bids for State-owned assets

Russian energy giant Gazprom has said it is not interested in buying any Irish state assets -- despite an expectation that some of those assets will be put up for sale to help clear our crippling €93.4bn national debt.

Gazprom, which is worth €120bn, has been linked with a move for Irish energy companies in recent years, including a play for Bord Gais. It is already supplying gas to commercial users in Ireland.

"It's not something we'd entertain," said Simon Garcia, communications manager at Gazprom Marketing & Trading, when asked if Gazprom had any interest in taking over Irish State assets. "It just doesn't fit."

The task of selling state assets is likely to fall on the shoulders of the new Irish government. The outgoing government hired economist Colm McCarthy to assess the value of Ireland's semi-state assets and to highlight which ones could be sold off to private investors. This review is expected to be published after the election.

Mr McCarthy has examined assets such as the ESB, Coillte, Bord na Mona, Bord Gais, Coras Iompair Eireann and Dublin Port Company.

ESB boss Padraig McManus recently said that the State could raise up to €8bn by selling off the ESB.

Fine Gael plans to sell "non-strategic" state assets, such as Bord Gais Energy, ESB Power Generation, and ESB Customer Supply, if it gets into power, according to its election manifesto. Davy Stockbrokers estimates that Ireland could raise €4bn from a trade sale of those companies.

Sunday Indo Business