Saturday 24 March 2018

The family silver: What else can we sell?

• Nama: Europe's largest property company with gross assets, largely funded by State-guaranteed borrowing, of almost €38bn at the end of June. Even a partial privatisation of Nama would push some of these borrowings off the national balance sheet.

• OPW: One of the country's largest landlords. With the property market showing renewed signs of life, all of those public buildings with, literally, gilt-edged tenants are suddenly looking attractive to investors once again.

• Road tolls: At present there are 12 toll booths on Irish roads. Expect this number to rise sharply in the years ahead.

• RTE: Forget the broadcasting arm. That 40-acre site in Donnybrook is a potential goldmine.

• Mobile: Last year the mobile phone companies agreed to pay up to €854m for 4G mobile spectrum. How long will it be before the next all-singing, all-dancing mobile breakthrough will yield another windfall for the Exchequer?

• Air Traffic Control: Irish airspace covers most of the north-east Atlantic. This means that virtually every transatlantic flight pays a fee to Irish air-traffic control. A tasty morsel.

• Bank of Ireland: Looking good. The Government stands to receive €1.9bn for its preference shares while its 15 per cent equity stake is worth another €1.3bn.

• ESB: By far the most valuable state-owned company. Would first have to be broken up into its constituent businesses, power generation, Eirgrid and Electric Ireland, before being sold. Brendan Ogle and the ESB unions will fight this one every inch of the way.

• Bord Gais: No takers for its retail business at €1.4bn. Might be a different story if the gas pipeline network was thrown in.

• Irish Water: With almost two million domestic customers, several hundred thousand business customers and annual revenues over €1bn, this one has potential investors salivating.

Aer Lingus: The State's 25 per cent shareholding is now worth €182m. This will be sold as soon as Ryanair leaves the shareholders' register.

• Coillte: Only the harvesting rights to its forests have been put up for sale. Will at least some of its 445,000 hectare estate have to be included to woo investors?

• Dublin Airport Authority: Loaded up with debt to fund Dublin Airport's T2 and the new terminal at Cork Airport. However, a buyer could surely be found for its 20 per cent stake in Dusseldorf airport and its international duty-free operations.

• An Post: With most of us having shifted to e-mail this one looks like a hound.

• Bord na Mona: In a green world who wants a solid fuel company? Another canine.

Sunday Independent

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