Sunday 22 September 2019

Turleys see profits at fuel firm Clonbio hit €35m

Clonbio's plant in Hungary produces 500m litres of ethanol a year. Stock Image
Clonbio's plant in Hungary produces 500m litres of ethanol a year. Stock Image
John Mulligan

John Mulligan

The Dublin brothers who made about €200m selling their car rental tech firm Cartrawler have seen profits at their ethanol-producing business soar 47pc to €35.5m.

Greg and Niall Turley were the co-founders of Cartrawler, which they sold between 2011 and 2014.

The Turley family, including the brothers, are the majority shareholders in Dublin-based Clonbio, which was founded by third brother Mark and which owns a processing plant in Hungary that produces ethanol from grain.

The facility also manufactures high-protein animal feed and corn oil.

The company, established by Mark Turley in 2008, said that its revenue rose 11pc to €278m last year.

It also slashed its debt pile, reducing short-term borrowings by €49m to €35m. Long-term borrowings were cut by €18m to €48m.

Since it was founded, Clonbio has received financing from entities including the Export-Import Bank of the United States, Hungarian Export-Import Bank, a fund controlled by Cordiant Capital and Budapest Bank. At the end of 2016, its short-term borrowings included €59.1m in shareholder loans.

Mr Turley, who is Clonbio's CEO, said that the group has invested an additional €30m in its refinery so far this year. The plant is now the largest ethanol producer in Europe.

He said that the group expects to benefit from the wider introduction of petrol blended with ethanol across Europe. So-called E10 petrol is regular petrol that is blended with about 10pc ethanol. The fuel is already used in some countries. During the summer, the UK government launched a consultation process to help determine of E10 fuel should be introduced there by 2020. The fuel helps to reduce carbon emissions.

"We are strongly advocating for the introduction of E10 in Ireland," said Mr Turley.

E5 is currently the standard petrol in Ireland, and contains 5pc ethanol.

Clonbio's plant in Hungary, situated next to the River Danube, buys about 1.1m tonnes of feed corn every year from farmers. It produces 500m litres of ethanol a year, as well as 350,000 tonnes of animal feed, and 15,000 tonnes of corn oil.

Last year, additional investment in the plant resulted in great efficiency and higher operating levels, according to Clonbio.

Revenue reported by the company last year was lifted by higher ethanol prices as increased demand for the product was spurred by the continuing introduction of E10 in Europe. Ethanol prices also rose internationally, while there was reduced production capacity elsewhere in Europe.

Apart from the Turley family, other shareholders in Clonbio include Hugh Grennan, a co-owner of the Old Storehouse restaurant in Dublin's Temple Bar.

Irish Independent

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