Tuesday 12 November 2019

NTR seals deal with global powerhouse BlackRock

World's largest asset manager will use 'deep experience' of Irish firm to identify alternative energy investments

Emmet Oliver Deputy Business Editor

NTR PLC, the renewable energy and toll road operator, has signed a radical new deal with BlackRock, the world's largest asset manager, to identify new investments in the alternative energy sector.

The new venture will be headquartered in Ireland and is expected to trawl markets in various locations for renewable deals.

BlackRock, for its part, said it had identified renewables as being a "highly attractive asset class'' for the fund and now the companies could combine their expertise. The new venture will be able to use BlackRock's fund management services and IT infrastructure.

BlackRock has $3.5 trillion of assets under management and under the leadership of Larry Fink is one of the most powerful forces in global markets. It is currently examining the loan books of Irish banks as part of IMF/EU commissioned stress tests.

While NTR remains an independent entity from BlackRock, as part of the deal, the company's chief executive Jim Barry takes up a new role as chief investment officer of the new joint entity. He will in time be replaced at NTR by Michael McNicholas, currently operating officer at NTR.

The precise details of how the new alliance between NTR and BlackRock will work were not spelled out yesterday.

NTR will provide 10 to 12 staff initially to the venture, but up to 25 will ultimately move over. The venture will invest in assets and businesses in the renewable energy sector, Mr Barry said. BlackRock will be using the NTR staff for their "deep sectoral experience'', he added.

He said the bad and good experiences NTR had picked up over recent years had given it a level of expertise not widely available. "It is the scars on the back we've got they are interested in, too,'' said Mr Barry.

He was speaking as NTR announced results for the six months ended September 30 showing a loss for the period of €95m, but with revenues rising by €50m to €168m. The company now has assets of €1.26bn and cash of €124m.

The company has spread its resources among a number of sectors, with waste making up 36pc, followed by solar at 31pc, wind at 17pc and ethanol at 16pc.

No interim dividend is being paid for now, but over the next three years this may change. The company has cut back its spending on solar technology, but is confident investments made to date will pay off.

Mr Barry said the price of the company's shares on the grey market did not reflect the underlying value of its assets. "The board will keep the payment of any future dividend under close review,'' said the company's earnings statement.

Irish Independent

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