DUBLIN Nov 27 Ireland has failed to secure
acceptable bids for its flagship privatisation, the sale of the
retail unit of its gas utility Bord Gais, raising doubts about
its ability to hit a 3 billion euro ($4.07 billion) asset sale
target under its EU-IMF bailout.
Despite significant interest, "none of the final bids
received for (Bord Gais') energy business were at an acceptable
value," Ireland's energy ministry said in a statement on
The government will review options for Bord Gais Energy, the
Dublin last year raised its target for the sale of state
assets from 2 billion euros after reaching an agreement with its
bailout lenders to use some of the proceeds to invest in the
economy as well as pay down debt.
The government has since withdrawn plans to sell its 25
percent stake in Aer Lingus and state forestry firm Coillte.
It secured 400 million euros though the sale of a lottery
licence last month and is looking for a further 400 million from
the Irish Electricity Supply Board (ESB) which sold the first of
its non strategic assets put on the block last week.
Sources said the government hoped to secure up to half of
its 3 billion target through the sale of Bord Gais Energy.
The Irish Times reported that the government received bids
from Britain's Centrica, U.S. investment fund Blackstone
and Northern Ireland energy firm Viridian for
the Bord Gais unit.
The energy ministry refused to name the bidders. Blackstone
declined comment while Viridian and Centrica did not immediately
respond to requests for comment.
Bord Gais Energy handles marketing, call-centres, billing,
and appliance servicing to over 600,000 gas customers and
300,000 electricity customers, and also has a stock of assets,
particularly focussed in the renewable sector.