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NTR mulls €175m dividend payment for shareholders


NTR boss Rosheen McGuckian

NTR boss Rosheen McGuckian

NTR boss Rosheen McGuckian

Renewable energy group NTR said it is examining whether to hand back $196m (€175m) to shareholders from the sale of US wind farms.

A committee is now considering how to deliver a "liquidity event" for shareholders before the end of the year.

NTR, which was the subject of a bitter boardroom dispute last year, now makes most of its profit from wind and water companies in Ireland and the UK but it has previously owned wind and solar farms in the US.

NTR said yesterday that it is looking at creating either a share redemption scheme or a dividend option or a mix of the two to return cash to shareholders.

A share redemption scheme would allow disgruntled investors including One51 and Pageant Holdings to sever their links with the business.

"The exact format of any proposed liquidity event is yet to be decided and any such liquidity event would likely comprise a return of capital, either by way of a dividend to shareholders or a share redemption programme," NTR said.

"A committee of the board, comprised solely of independent directors, has been established for the purpose of considering the various options available to the group," it added.

The decision to return funds to shareholders has been expected since the autumn when NTR reached an agreement to it sell its wind energy assets in the United States and then undertake a tender offer for NTR's issued shares. That agreement ended a bitter battle about the future of the company.

The shares trade on the so-called grey market which limits the numbers of investors. NTR will be effectively controlled by the Roche family if the disgruntled One51 and Pageant Holdings cash out.

NTR also said yesterday that it has committed to invest €50m in wind assets on its own and is seeking another €100m from partners for the same purpose. NTR started the fundraising initiative towards the end of its fiscal year and "has received a very encouraging response to date".

NTR's biggest investments are in wind power but it still has a 33pc shareholding in motorways from Dublin to Portlaoise and Waterford. "The investments continue to remain challenged," it said yesterday.

NTR also said yesterday that it posted a 13.9pc increase in profits to €35.7m in the 12 months to the end of March. Profit from continuing operations was €16m and profit from discontinued operations, which includes Wind Capital Group was €19.8m.

The profit hike was due to the strong dollar and an income tax credit following changes in inflation assumptions used in the calculation of a deferred tax liability relating to an asset sale.

"Revenues from our new investments should start to flow in 2016 through 2017 as projects complete construction and energy flows," said chief executive Rosheen McGuckian.

"Our goal is to have profits fully running to a steady state basis by 2018."

NTR cut overhead cost such as staff and board fees but paid more to other advisors to get some transactions over the line. "As a result, corporate costs remained flat at €5.8m year-on-year,"

NTR spent €7.1m in wind farm projects in Northern Ireland through project acquisition and construction costs. It will build eight wind farms in this financial year.

Irish Independent