Questions for Minister of Public Expenditure and Reform

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Oral Questions, Public Expenditure

To ask the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform his plans to privatise further State assets in the remaining time in office of this Government; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

The original programme of asset disposals agreed by Government included

The sale of Bord Gais Eireann’s Energy business;
The sale of some of ESB’s non-strategic power generation capacity;
Consideration of the sale of some assets of Coillte, but excluding its land; and
The sale of the State’s remaining shareholding in Aer Lingus, at the right time, for the right price and under the right conditions .

The planned asset disposals by Bord Gais Eireann (now Ervia) and ESB have now been completed.

In relation to Coillte, detailed analyses undertaken in preparation for a potential sale of harvesting rights indicated that the consequences of such a transaction for Coillte itself, and for its remaining business, were such that the net proceeds that would be extractable by the Government by way of dividend following such a sale were very modest, compared with the gross proceeds achievable.  For that reason, the Government decided not to proceed with its plans to dispose of Coillte’s harvesting rights, but instead to proceed to restructure and streamline Coillte as a company.  This restructuring, which is ongoing, is addressing the various issues that had been identified in the detailed reviews, and will also facilitate a partial merger with Bord na Mona, in the form of a Joint Venture, focusing on a number of business areas of both companies which offer the greatest potential for efficiencies and synergies – in particular the areas of biomass and wind energy.

The final asset included in the Government’s asset disposal programme was Aer Lingus, and a Government Steering Group is currently assessing the approach that has been made by AIG in relation to a possible takeover of Aer Lingus by IAG.  The work of that Group will inform Government’s consideration of whether it should agree to sell its remaining shareholding in Aer Lingus to IAG.

Apart from the above, the Government has no plans to dispose of any further State assets.