Wind power company Airtricity is preparing to raise €500 million in fresh capital through a fundraising which could be completed by the summer.
The company wants to use the money to fund its growing international portfolio of projects and is likely to meet its target of between €400 million and €500 million in fresh capital without difficulty, according to market sources.
When complete, Airtricity will have raised just over €1 billion in the last five years to fund its wind farm expansion plans in Ireland, Scotland and the US.
Sources close to the company said it couldn’t rule out a stock market flotation as a means of raising the capital, something which would allow some investors to cash in on the company’s €1 billion-plus valuation.
Mergermarket.com, the London-based specialist publication, quoted Airtricity sources as saying the company could float or be the subject of a buyout later this year. It speculated that a significant proportion of the company’s shareholders were seeking a return through an exit.
One source told The Sunday Business Post that a final decision on whether to float or just raise fresh funds had not yet been taken.
Last year, Airtricity raised €385 million in a private placing which saw entrepreneur Sean Quinn exit the business and specialist utility investor Ecofin take up a 16 per cent stake.
NTR owns 51 per cent of Airtricity and is expected to participate fully in the fundraising, something which would cost it between €200 million and €250 million.
NTR could finance its participation in the fundraising by using the proceeds of the sale of the West-Link toll bridge to the state.
NTR is set to receive €600 million from the sale in staggered payments. These could be sold on to finance an upfront capital investment in Airtricity.
If NTR raises fresh capital of its own to fund Airtricity, it will have a knock-on effect on OneFifty One and Tom Roche, who hold major stakes in NTR.
They would have to participate in an NTR rights issue to avoid any dilution of their stake.
By Richard Curran
18 March 2007
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