(Adds Centrica CEO, Bord Gais statements, analyst comment,
LONDON, March 25 Britain's Centrica and
its consortium partners said on Tuesday they will buy the retail
arm and other assets of Ireland's state-owned Bord Gais for 1.1
billion euros ($1.5 billion), helping the utility expand abroad
as it is losing customers at home.
Centrica will purchase Bord Gais Energy, Ireland's biggest
electricity and gas provider, and the 445-megawatt Whitehead
gas-fired power station as part of the deal that is expected to
close in the second quarter.
Its consortium partners iCON Infrastructure Partners and
Brookfield Renewable Energy Partners will purchase Bord Gais'
distribution and renewable power generation assets,
respectively, the companies said.
Centrica said the enterprise value of its share of the deal
would be 210 million euros. The net consideration payable for
the deal is 150 million euros, it added.
"This is a unique opportunity for Centrica to take a first
step in a neighbouring market," said Centrica chief executive
Sam Laidlaw in a statement.
Whitman Howard analyst Angelos Anastasiou said the deal will
provide Centrica with a platform for growth in an adjacent
The utility, which owns Britain's largest energy supplier
British Gas, has come under fire at home for its dominant
position in the retail market, prompting even Britain's energy
secretary of state to call for the firm's grip on the retail
market to be loosened.
Centrica reported a 6 percent fall in 2013 profits at its
British Gas arm after it lost 362,000 customers over the year.
The governemnt picked Centrica's consortium as the preferred
bidder in December after it had put the Bord Gais assets up for
sale as part of its privatisation programme.
The deal concluded below the government's 1.5 million euro
target for the sale.
"All Bord Gais Energy staff will transfer to the new
consortium," Bord Gais said in a statement.
Centrica's shares edged up 0.2 percent to 332.1 pence by
0809 GMT on Tuesday.
($1 = 0.7255 Euros)
(Reporting by Karolin Schaps; editing by Keith Weir and Paul