250 new jobs as Bord Gais acquires wind-energy firm for more than €500 million

4 Dec 2009

Bord Gáis today completed the purchase of West Cork-based SWS Natural Resources, one of the largest wind generators in Ireland, in a transaction worth more than €500 million.

The move will be followed up by a commitment to invest €700 million in wind-energy projects over the next five years, creating 250 new jobs.

SWS Natural Resources operates 179MW of wind-generating assets. In addition, SWS has an advanced development pipeline of 460MW in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. SWS employs 50 people at its office in Bandon, Co Cork.

An important step

The chairman of Bord Gais, Rose Hynes, said the acquisition is a significant step in the pursuit of Ireland’s duel-fuel, all-island strategy.

Bord Gais serves 630,000 gas users in Ireland. The company built and owns more than 12,800km of gas pipelines, including two sub-sea interconnectors with Scotland from where Ireland gets more than 92pc of its gas supplies. Bord Gáis has both a transmission pipeline business and a gas supply/distribution business in Northern Ireland. The company is majority owned by the Irish Government.

Bord Gáis entered the residential electricity market in February 2009 and has quickly gained more than 250,000 customers in its first nine months of trading. The company already serves the business and agricultural sectors and held 8pc of the electricity market in Ireland at the end of 2008.

“The acquisition [of SWS] will strengthen our asset base and provide us with the renewable energy resources to meet the needs of our customers with a sustainable and competitive electricity offering,” said Hynes.

Acquisition is an enhancement

The chief executive of Bord Gais, John Mullins, said the acquisition significantly enhances the asset quality of the company’s balance sheet and fulfils the commitment made when it went to international financial markets and raised more than €800 million.

“Over the next five years, Bord Gáis will invest almost €700 million in the construction of the wind projects and in the process create 250 sustainable jobs.”

The Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Eamon Ryan TD welcomed the acquisition, noting that SWS Natural Resources has been successful in developing and operating wind assets in Ireland and that the combination of the company’s skills and the expertise of Bord Gáis will ensure the successful rollout of wind-energy projects.

“Bord Gáis are to be commended for their wise investment in the growing green economy. Ireland will reap the benefits,” he said.

By John Kennedy

Photo: Bord Gáis has acquired SWS Natural Resources, one of the largest wind generators in Ireland, in a transaction worth more than €500 million.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years