Thursday 22 August 2019

NTR split is sealed as shareholder payout looms

NTR chief executive Rosheen McGuckian
NTR chief executive Rosheen McGuckian
John Mulligan

John Mulligan

Irish utility group NTR formally completed its demerger yesterday, as it reported a first-half profit of €72.6m on the back of US asset sales.

The company has been plotting the demerger for a number of months and shareholders gave the go-ahead for the plan back in September.

NTR said the profits realised in the first half were primarily due to the sale of the Wind Capital Group assets, which was completed in May, combined with a foreign exchange gain on a deferred payment for the prior sale of the Osage wind project in the US, and six weeks of trading of the US business up to the sale date.

The company, headed by chief executive Rosheen McGuckian, said that it had shareholder funds of €226.6m at the end of September, which was up 29pc over the previous six months.

Total assets at the end of September were €280.8m, comprising cash and investments in European wind energy projects.

As part of the demerger process, shareholders in NTR will be offered a redemption of €2.25 per share by the demerged company.

NTR said shareholders will be notified in coming days of a series of five redemption dates between December and April 2016.

Remaining assets, including water, road and energy storage assets will reside within the existing company, which will be renamed Altas Investments. Shareholders will continue to hold stakes in that firm.

Altas will be chaired by former INM chief executive Vincent Crowley. Ms McGuckian said that Altas will be on a "sound financial footing" as the demerger takes place.

NTR's biggest shareholders include Dreamport, which is controlled by chairman Tom Roche. It has a 38pc shareholding. Dreamport will not take part in the share redemption.

One51, the environmental and plastics group, owns 24pc of NTR. A vehicle controlled by businessman Nick Furlong, Pageant Holdings, owns 9.2pc. Both One51 and Pageant have been vocal critics of NTR in the past. They will both take part in the redemption.

NTR is focusing its activities on European wind energy assets, and particularly on Ireland and the UK. It's planning to raise €120m in third-party equity, on top of its own €50m equity investment in NTR. It said it still hopes to have received that external investment by the end of December.

"It gives us an opportunity to acquire more windfarms," Ms McGuckian said in September. "Our plan was about 170 MW, that's now maybe 190MW of wind projects. Obviously that enables us to raise more debt as well."

"We like these projects because they deliver long-term attractive yields on our invested capital, she added.

In the first half of NTR's financial year, about 42 megawatts of construction-ready wind projects in Ireland and the UK were acquired. Subsequently, an additional 23 megawatts were acquired or agreements entered into.

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