Fund acquires 75pc stake in Viridian Group’s wind farms

18 Jun 2012

The Irish Infrastructure Fund has acquired a controlling stake in a portfolio of wind farms owned by Viridian Group in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Viridan’s wind farm portfolio across the island comprises 104 megawatt (MW) of capacity generated by 10 wind farms, eight of which are located in the Republic of Ireland. The wind farms have been managed by Viridian’s subsidiary, Energia.

The Irish Infrastructure Fund itself was set up by the Irish Life Investment Managers back in November of last year. It is managed by AMP Capital. In Ireland, the ASX-listed Macquarie Capital advised AMP Capital on this particular deal.

The National Pensions Reserve Fund is a cornerstone investor in the Irish Infrastructure Fund.

And today’s announcement is the first investment that the Irish Infrastructure Fund has completed. The fund is now seeking up to €1bn from global and Irish institutional investors. It has already secured €300m from the National Pensions Reserve Fund as well as other Irish institutional investors.

As for the Viridian transaction, the fund is set to hold a stake of at least 75pc across Viridian’s portfolio of wind farms.

Viridian said today that Energia will retain the minority interest in the portfolio and will continue to manage and operate the wind farms and to offtake substantially all of the electricity generated by them.

Boe Pahari, who is AMP Capital’s head of infrastructure in Europe, spoke this morning about Ireland’s attractiveness as a strategic location for wind-energy generation due to the prevailing south-westerly winds of the Atlantic Ocean. He also alluded to the fund’s plans to ramp up its renewable energy investments in Ireland.

“We continue to progress an active deal pipeline consistent with our strategy of investing in quality Irish infrastructure assets across a range of sectors. We see this transaction as potentially the first in a number of additional investments in the renewable energy space in Ireland,” said Pahari.

According to Peter Baillie, managing director, Energia Renewables, the company has invested €200m to date and has a 24pc market share of operational wind generation throughout Ireland under contract.

Energia’s most recent projects include Corkermore and Drumlough Hill wind farms in Co Donegal, Caherdowney in Co Cork and Crighshane and Church Hill in Co Tyrone.

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic