Brookfield Group Seals Deal For Ireland's Bord Gais

NEW YORK (The Deal) -- A consortium led by Brookfield Renewable Energy Partners and including Britain's Centrica said Tuesday it had finalized a 1.1 billion euro ($1.5 billion) deal to acquire and break up Ireland's Bord Gais Energy, securing entry into Ireland's state-dominated energy market.

Under the terms of the deal, Toronto-listed Brookfield will buy Bord Gais' 17 wind energy projects for an enterprise value of 700 million euros, including 495 million euros of assumed debt.

Centrica will take on Bord Gais' gas and electricity supply businesses and a 445 megawatt gas-fired power station, paying an enterprise value of 210 million euros, while a fund managed by London-based Icon Infrastructure LLP will acquire the energy supply and regulated gas business in Northern Ireland, called Firmus Energy, for about 190 million euros.

The sale of Dublin-based Bord Gais Energy is a cornerstone of the Irish state's foundering efforts to raise 3 billion euros to pay down a public debt that is among the highest in the euro zone.

The sales target was agreed as part of a European Union and International Monetary Fund bailout in 2010 following a crash in property values that crippled Ireland's major banks.

Ireland had hoped to sell Bord Gais Energy for about 1.4 billion euros, but in December agreed to talk with the Brookfield consortium based on a 1.1 billion euro indicative offer after it rejected as too low a handful of other bids.

Public opposition and lack of demand have hampered other planned asset sales.

"This first acquisition outside the Americas provides us with a strong foundation to build a scalable renewable energy business in Europe," Brookfield president and CEO Richard Legault said in a statement.

Brookfield's deal secures 321 megawatts of operating capacity across Ireland and Northern Ireland, with a further 125 megawatts under construction.

The fund said it would retain a 40% stake in the newly acquired Irish assets, with the rest to be acquired directly by unnamed institutional partners.

Brookfield operates about 6,000 megawatts of renewable energy assets in North and South America. It said further acquisitions and developments in Europe would be a core focus in the future. The sale is expected to complete before the end of the first half of 2014. Bord Gais took advice on the sale from RBC Capital Markets.

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