Business Irish

Wednesday 22 November 2017

The Punt: Cider-makers bank on Emer

A bottle of cider
A bottle of cider
NTR Chief Executive Rosheen McGuickian

WE'RE sure brewer C&C's latest addition to its board will blend in well (excuse us). The owner of Bulmers, or Magners as our British neighbours call it, has appointed Emer Finnan as a non-executive director.

Ms Finnan will bring serious financial acumen to C&C's board. She has 20 years of experience in investment banking and financial services, including stints at Citibank, ABN AMRO, NCB Stockbrokers and, her current role, senior managing director of Kildare Partners.

Kildare Partners is a relatively new private equity fund set up by ex-Lone Star vice chairman, and owner of Sunderland FC, Ellis Short.

Mr Short reportedly raised about €1.1bn for the fund, which is targeting distressed properties across Europe and recently acquired its first Irish assets, around €100m of loans linked to Cork-based developer Michael O'Flynn from Lloyds Banking Group.

With those credentials, we're sure the brewing giant didn't mull over Ms Finnan's appointment for long.

Hopefully, her savvy will prove useful in its approach to the UK market, which has proved challenging for C&C amid tight competition.

Having an expert in buying distressed assets should also stand to it on the acquisition trail. Its latest purchase is the 50pc it didn't already own in Wallaces Express, the Scottish distribution company.

PM Group wins Alexion project

Dublin-based engineering firm PM Group has notched up more work, this time with US speciality drug company Alexion, which last week said it was investing €75m in a new campus in Blanchardstown in the capital.

Alexion expects the new 15,000sqm plant, which will incorporate laboratory, packaging and warehousing facilities as well as office space, to employ 200 people by 2016 (the planning material indicates 290). A similar number is expected to be involved in its construction. Alexion only arrived in Ireland last year.

Planning documents for the new campus show that PM Group, where former Enterprise Ireland boss Dan Flinter is chairman, is taking the lead on the project. Interestingly, Alexion bought the 16.8 hectare site in Blanchardstown from Fingal County Council. The documents also show that Alexion submitted a planning application fee of €38,000. But the company is also exempt from levies, according to documents, on foot of a "memorandum of agreement" inked between Alexion and the council. While the memorandum is described as being attached to the filed documents, it's not – so we don't get any immediate insight to the deal. It was also interesting to see that Alexion considered a number of sites for its investment, including two others in Blanchardstown, one in Drogheda, another in Dundalk, and two in Clondalkin in Dublin.

Wind energy is buffeted in US

It's interesting to see how the US wind energy sector is being buffeted by the glut of natural gas in the country as it benefits from the success of shale fracturing, as well as the termination of subsidies that allowed wind to be a competitive alternative power source. The US is the second-largest buyer of wind turbines, but the wind energy sector is suffering. Congress allowed the Production Tax Credit for wind power to expire last year, and wind farm construction plunged 92pc, according to Bloomberg news agency.

That may not have a big impact on Irish firm NTR, though. NTR owns the bulk of Wind Capital Group, a company that has wind farms in Missouri, Oklahoma and Kansas. NTR increased its ownership of Wind Capital in 2012 to 97pc from 62pc. But last year, NTR chief executive Rosheen McGuckian, below, said the group would be focusing future investment on late-stage wind energy projects in Ireland and the UK. Probably just as well. "Without the Production Tax Credit, we don't expect wind to be at cost parity with gas" in most places in the US, Stephen Munro, an analyst at New Energy Finance, told Bloom-berg.

Irish Independent

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