Business Irish

Friday 6 December 2019

Roches back Goldsmith fund

Investment: Ben Goldsmith
Investment: Ben Goldsmith

John Reynolds

Conor Roche, of the wealthy Roche family that owns stakes in NTR and Doyle Hotels, has emerged as an investor in a new £150m green investment fund being assembled by Ben Goldsmith, youngest son of the late Anglo-French billionaire tycoon and environmentalist Sir James.

Booming Irish insulation company Kingspan is an example of one type of company BGT Capital - which has raised £90m to date - will invest in, Goldsmith said. It will make 20 to 30 investments in total, up to half of which will be in listed equities, with the rest in wind or solar energy projects and other green funds including WHEB Group, an investment firm he co-founded in 2002.

Roche declined to comment other than to confirm he was an investor. However, it is thought the investment may be on behalf of the family - thought to be worth up to €290m - whose wealth derives from founding cement giant CRH, NTR investments in toll roads, water, energy storage and wind energy, and a stake in the Doyle family's hotel group.

He currently works as a business development director at NTR, which lost €312m in badly timed solar power investments in the US in recent years. Earlier this month it put two US wind farms on the block, having also bought some smaller Northern Irish wind projects last month.

Other backers of BGT, which is aiming to list on the London Stock Exchange early next year and will be chaired by Sir Ian Cheshire, the outgoing boss of B&Q owner Kingfisher, include Aditya Mittal, son of Britain's richest man Lakshmi Mittal and Easyjet founder Stelios Haji-Iaonnou.

Green-themed investments, when timed right, can be very lucrative. Billionaire Glen Dimplex founder Martin Naughton was one of a number of investors who made millions when wind energy entrepreneur Eddie O'Connor sold Airtricity for €2.2bn in 2008, while Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary also previously invested in wind energy.

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