Final bids sought for Bord Gáis retail division

State-owned energy group Bord Gáis is seeking final bids from three potential suitors for its retail division by November 25th with a view to choosing the final bidder by the time Ireland’s bailout ends on December 16th. The sale process has been under way since April.

It has also emerged that US private equity fund Blackstone, which only recently decided to join final-round bidding for the business, has hired Investec as an adviser.

Bord Gáis has asked Blackstone, British utility Centrica and Viridian – owner of local rival Energia – to submit final bids for its energy division, which supplies gas and electricity to businesses and consumers, by November 25th.

Blackstone only recently re-entered the race at the vendor’s invitation. It dropped out after running the rule over the business earlier this year.

According to specialist energy industry new service Sparkspread, the US fund has hired Investec, which recently took over NCB, to advise on its bid for the utility.

Centrica also pulled back as it was unwilling to meet the €1.1 billion reserve price set by Bord Gáis and its advisers, but it is understood to be likely to make a final offer.

Only Viridian, which is backed by Australian bank Macquarie, was originally willing to exceed the reserve when the sales process began.

Once it became clear last year that the business would be put up for sale there was speculation that it would fetch a price of €1 billion to €1.5 billion, although some industry sources speculated that those figures were too generous.

There is no reserve for this round. The fact that Centrica and Blackstone have re-entered the race suggest the seller’s sights have been lowered.

However, Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin said it would be sold only at a fair price. SOurce: The Irish Times.