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Roche family likely to gain NTR control in new move

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Tom Roche

Tom Roche

Colm Mahady/Fennells

Tom Roche

The Roche family looks set to gain eventual control of NTR after an agreement was reached with the board that will see two of the group's biggest shareholders exit the business.

The decision marks the end of what had been an increasingly acrimonious row between the board and shareholders One51 and Pageant Holdings. Those investors opposed a plan to invest up to €50m in wind energy projects in Europe.

NTR said that it has reached an agreement that will see it sell its wind energy assets in the United States "as soon as possible" and then undertake a tender offer for NTR's issued shares.

Trading in those shares - which are exchanged on the so-called grey market - was suspended yesterday morning pending the announcement.

Investment group One51 and Pageant Holdings, which is controlled by businessman Nick Furlong, have indicated to the NTR board that depending on the price per share offered by NTR, they intend to accept the tender offer for all their shares.

One51 owns nearly 24pc of NTR while Pageant owns nearly 10pc.

NTR's biggest shareholder, Woodford Capital, will not tender its shares. Woodford Capital is the vehicle controlled by NTR chairman Tom Roche and his family.

The upshot of the proposals is that Woodford Capital will then effectively control about 71pc of NTR.

Other connected family members control about an additional 5pc of NTR.

There are about 2,000 shareholders in the company.

But given that NTR shares are already illiquid, most will probably see the tender offer as a means of exiting the investment. If they don't, they may have difficulty selling their shares in future.

If most shareholders tender their holdings, then the Roche family will gain full control of the business.

NTR has had a turbulent recent past. It made a fortune selling the West Link toll road to the government, but subsequent investments saw it rack up big losses.

"The board has indicated to the three shareholders that it is pleased to note that the shareholders have come to a common understanding," said NTR.

The sale of its US wind energy assets - the Wind Capital Group - could take up to six months. Advisers are about to be appointed to handle that sale, it's understood.

Irish Independent