Saturday 16 December 2017

ESB chief steps down ahead of planned sell-off

Ailish O'Hora Public Affairs Correspondent

OUTGOING ESB chief Padraig McManus is stepping down as head of the electricity company ahead of a potential carve-up of commercial semi-state firms.

He had been expected to retire in 2012 but will step down later this year.

Mr McManus is on a total package worth €500,000, but whoever succeeds him will earn a salary of €250,000 after a cap was introduced on pay for commercial semi-state bosses.

A plan to sell off the 'state silver' is currently being finalised by a team headed up by University College, Dublin, economist Colm McCarthy.

As reported by the Irish Independent earlier this week, state assets like the ESB and Bord na Mona could join parts of Bord Gais on the auction block.

It is understood Mr McManus could retire with a pension worth €210,000 per annum. A spokesperson for the company would not comment on his entitlements last night.

Mr McManus earned €750,000 in 2009 including bonuses and contributions. Since then he has waived bonuses, and taken salary cuts totalling 15pc.

Mr McManus (60) was appointed chief executive of the ESB in February 2002. A native of Naas, Co Kildare, he joined the ESB in the 1970s with a degree in engineering from UCD.

He said yesterday: "I could not have wished to work with more dedicated and committed people."

ESB chairman Lochlann Quinn paid tribute to Mr McManus, saying: "He has led the ESB through a period of unprecedented change."

Meanwhile, the number of prepaid meters in Irish homes is set to increase dramatically as consumers struggle to pay bills.

The ESB currently has 150,000 customers on its books with debt issues, while Bord Gais says 11,000 of its customers are at risk of disconnections.

"Every day we are seeing more and people coming to us for help, not just for energy debts but for all debts," the Commission for Energy Regulation's Dermot Nolan said yesterday.

"The ESB and Bord Gais are very willing to work with people to avoid disconnections."

One of the areas to be focused on is the installation of prepaid meters to help families in difficulties.

"If they could be installed in households where families are in severe financial distress that would give those families more control over how they pay for their energy," said Mr Nolan.

Irish Independent

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