Phoenix deal boosts Airtricity presence in Northern Ireland
AIRTRICITY will become Northern Ireland's second largest energy provider after its parent company paid £19.1m (€24m) to buy Phoenix Supply, one of the region's biggest gas suppliers.
Scottish and Southern Electricity (SSE), which owns Airtricity, said it had agreed to buy the business from Guy Hands's private-equity firm Terra Firma.
As part of the deal, it is also acquiring Phoenix Energy, which supplies gas in the commercial market in the Republic of Ireland.
That element of the transaction requires approval from the Competition Authority, which is expected to be secured during the summer.
Airtricity began offering its products in Northern Ireland in 2010, two years after the energy firm was sold to SSE for about €1.1bn by investors including NTR and founder Eddie O'Connor.
Airtricity currently has about 100,000 residential and commercial customers in Northern Ireland.
Following completion of the deal, the firm will have about 750,000 gas and electricity customers across Ireland.
The company also owns 500 megawatts of wind-turbine installations on the island.
Terra Firma bought East Surrey Holdings, of which Phoenix was a part, in 2005, for about £450m. It had been primarily interested in securing Phoenix, which then had about 80,000 customers, mostly around Belfast.
Terra Firma had tried to pull out of the deal at the last minute, but was forced to carry through with its offer by the UK's Takeover Panel.
Kevin Greenhorn, the SSE's director of business supply and also the chief executive of Airtricity, said the deal marked a "significant step" as it aims to become the largest supplier of gas and electricity in Northern Ireland.