| 8.7°C Dublin

Part of ESB to be sold off to raise needed funds

A minority stake of the ESB is to be sold off to raise much-needed funds, Energy Minister Pat Rabbitte has confirmed.

The Government needs to raise €2bn from the sale of state assets.

It is understood that the electricity company will still remain in majority state ownership after the move.

The power generating stations, the network and customer services will all remain part of the same company.

Earlier Mr Rabbitte committed to not selling off the network part of the ESB.

Other semi-state firms that could be sold off include the Government’s stake in Aer Lingus and a part-sale of Bord Gais.

The Government wants to put money it raises from selling state assets into Fine Gael’s New Era – a new semi-state designed to invest in infrastructure like broadband to create jobs.

However, the coalition is also under pressure from the EU/IMF to indicate how it plans to raise the funds from privatisations agreed in the €67.5bn bailout deal.

Speaking in the Dail, Mr Rabbitte said there would be a “defined process involving a full evaluation of the best approach to be taken, including the size of the minority stake to be sold”.

A review group co-chaired by his department and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform will make a recommendation about the sale and its potential value by the end of November.

The National Treasury Management Agency will also be consulted.

"This decision is an early demonstration of the commitment by the Government to the programme for government objectives and to its obligations under the EU-IMF memorandum of understanding,” said Mr Rabbitte. “This sale will be advanced by means of a defined process involving a full evaluation of the best approach to be taken including consideration of the size of the minority stake to be sold."

However, Sinn Fein’s Martin Ferris said his party was totally opposed to a sale.

He described the move as a “retrograde step” that will contribute to more unemployment.