Tuesday 21 November 2017

Investors in NTR set for €250m windfall

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John Mulligan

John Mulligan

Thousands of Irish investors - including a who's who of business people - are set to share in a near €250m windfall as one of Ireland's best-known public companies, NTR, fades from the corporate landscape, the Irish Independent has learned.

NTR, which once owned assets including the Westlink Toll Bridge, recycling firm Greenstar, and a chunk of wind energy firm Airtricity, is effectively being wound down.

Controlled by shareholders including chairman Tom Roche and his family, as well as investment group One51, NTR is expected to sell off a small number of remaining assets in services such as water and roads following the recent sale of its wind energy assets in the United States. It’s believed that cash generated from the sale of those rump assets will also be returned to shareholders.

The company will have close to €250m available to hand back. It's hiving a small amount of European wind energy assets into a new company, and the eventual sale of the rump assets will effectively spell the end of what was once an Irish investment powerhouse.

Virtually all of NTR's €239m market capitalisation is reflected by its cash assets.

The Roche family controls just over 38pc of NTR via a company called Dreamport, which will remain a shareholder in the new separate European wind arm. Roche family members also individually own sizeable chunks of shares in NTR, according to company filings.

Investment group One51 is likely to receive around €56m for its 23.5pc stake in NTR.

Pageant Holdings, controlled by businessman Nick Furlong, owns 9.2pc of NTR and could get over €22m. But as many as 2,000 smaller shareholders in the business will also eventually receive cheques in the post.

The latest available shareholder return provided to the Companies Office by NTR in January - and which is effective to October 2013 - shows that a number of well-known Irish business people have been shareholders in the group.

They include Glen Dimplex boss Sean O'Driscoll, who has a small holding, as well as PR guru Nigel Heneghan, who counts NTR among his firm's clients. Serial investor Tom Anderson is also a small shareholder.

Also on the register are John McStay and Anthony Collins, businessmen who made a fortune from the sale of the Leader newspaper group in 2005 to Scotland's Johnston Press for €138m. Mr McStay - a well-known insolvency expert - was chairman of the Leader group and received about €7m from that sale. Mr Collins, a solicitor who was deputy chairman, received a reported €12m.

A number of former and current NTR executives are also in line for payouts. They include the former NTR engineering director Ciaran Blair; former chief executive Jim Barry; the former head of NTR's solar business, Ian Simington; and the former head of its Greenstar business in the United States, Steve Ragiel.

Current NTR chief executive Rosheen McGuckian owns almost 85,000 shares, currently worth about €207,000.

Matt Delnick, another former boss of Greenstar in the US, also owns shares in NTR. He sued Greenstar's US operation in 2012 in what was an acrimonious $100m lawsuit. The sides later settled the case.

NTR expects to finalise its liquidity event before the end of this year. At the end of 2013, NTR returned €100m to its shareholders.

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