ESB to sell power plants to meet Government €400m target

State-owned ESB is set to sell two of its Irish power plants as part of an overall programme of dispersals aimed at raising a €400 million special dividend to the Government.

The group yesterday confirmed that a “ major European insurance company” has been chosen as the preferred bidder for its 50 per cent stakes in two generating plants, Marchwood Power in southern England and Bizkaia Energiain Spain.

“In line with the programme to dispose of non-strategic assets, ESB is also announcing today its intention to sell two additional generation facilities, Lough Ree Power and West Offaly Power,” the group added.

Both plants are peat-burning and began operating in 2004 and 2005. The ESB is likely to appoint advisers over the coming weeks and expects that both will be sold by the middle of next year.

The sales of all four facilities are part of a Government plan, announced in early 2012, to dispose of State-owned assets in an effort to raise a total of €3 billion.

Other transactions included in this are the sale of Bord Gáis Energy. There is speculation that the business will fetch around €1 billion.

The Government is seeking a special dividend of €400 million from the sale of the ESB’s power plants. If the four transactions already announced do not raise that figure, it is likely that the group will look at offloading further assets to meet the target.

Meanwhile, the interim statement released by the ESB confirmed that the group intends defending a court action relating to its pension plan brought by four employees. Source: The Irish Times