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NTR remains committed to US group after selling 10pc of shares

IRISH utility group NTR has said it remains committed to remaining a shareholder in US-based ethanol producer Green Plains Renewable Energy (GPRE) after offloading almost 10pc of the group for $28m (€20.5m).

NTR, which has already ditched a failed US solar energy investment strategy, confirmed yesterday that it sold 3.5m shares in GPRE back to the company at $8 per share.

NTR retains about 7.7m shares in the ethanol maker -- the fourth biggest in the US -- representing just over 21pc of GPRE's outstanding shares.

Shares in the fuel manufacturer climbed over 2.8pc higher to $9.40 in early trading on the Nasdaq. NTR is set to receive 50pc of the repurchase price this week. The balance will be paid within 90 days.

"The sale of approximately one-third of our investment in Green Plains is part of a rebalancing of our portfolio of renewable energy investments," said Neil Parkinson, chief financial officer of NTR.

"Green Plains continues to be a strategic holding for us, and we look forward to sharing in its continued success."

Todd Becker, the president and chief executive of GPRE, said that the repurchase of the company's stock at $8 per share is a transaction that "creates value" for the company's shareholders.

"NTR is a long-term, valued investor in our company," he added. "We are pleased that they are committed to our growth strategy and will continue to be our single largest shareholder."

NTR merged its North American ethanol business VBV with GPRE in 2008, making it GPRE's single biggest shareholder.

That transaction also saw NTR inject a further $60m into GPRE.

After making massive returns for shareholders in the last decade, NTR has suffered heavily in the past couple of years.

Irish Independent