Spanish energy giant Endesa has reignited plans to offload its Irish power stations at a discount of up to €100m to the €450m it paid for them to the ESB only three years ago.
The owner of four power stations including Tarbert in Co Kerry and Great Island in Co Wexford has widely circulated sale documents in recent weeks to potential trade and private equity bidders in a move which may dampen demand for Irish state energy assets which are also expected to go on the block this year.
Approaches have been made by advisers to Endesa to Chinese state energy companies, Middle East funds as well as more obvious potential buyers such as Scottish & Southern Energy, the owner of Airtricity, and Centrica, the British utility giant.
The chunky Spanish energy group controls about 16 per cent of the total Irish electricity market and the Government had hoped its arrival would introduce more competition to the Irish market which is still led by the ESB.
Spain's government has recently taken actions that will reduce revenues of Spanish utilities as part of its 2012 budget. This may have encouraged the sale by Endesa of its non-core Irish assets.
The move by the largest electrical utility in Spain to offload its Irish business could impact government plans to sell Irish energy assets.
Buyers will use the price Endesa is prepared to accept as a gauge when bidding for state assets. Endesa previously put its Irish interests on the block last year, but pulled the sale process because of global financial uncertainty.