Airtricity founder and former chief Eddie O’Connor is to establish a new wind energy firm.
The company announced yesterday that he is to step down as head of the company following the agreement to sell the wind giant to Scottish & Southern Energy in a €2.2bn deal. However, it is understood that the new venture is being set up by Mr O’Connor and Airtricity’s corporate finance manager, Fintan Whelan.
It had been anticipated that Mr O’Connor would leave Airtricity following the Scottish & Southern Energy deal.
Mr O’Connor, who will earn €45m from the deal with the Scots, and Mr Whelan had actually mounted a €1.2bn management buyout bid over Christmas, but they were pipped at the post.
The MBO offer was being backed by Investec and two brokers Dolmen and Goodbody. JP Morgan was advising on the offer. It is understood that the latest venture has similar backing.
Mr O’Connor is being replaced at Airtricity by his former business partner Paul Dowling, who scoured Ireland with him back in 1997 looking at windswept sites with just €625,000 in equity backing before establishing Future Wind Partnership and subsequently Airtricity.
Mr O’Connor, a green convert, founded Airtricity back in 1999, a few years after he stepped down as managing director of Bord Na Mona.
Mr Dowling, who also worked with Mr O’Connor at Bord Na Mona, paid tribute to Mr O’Connor yesterday. “Eddie’s unfaltering belief in renewables and his drive to develop the business in Ireland inspired the Airtricity team and made Airtricity the success it is today.”
A chartered engineer, Mr Dowling worked with Bord Na Mona from 1990 to 1997. He is also a former board member of the British Wind Energy association.
There were a number of beneficiaries from the sale of Airtricity, including utilities conglomerate NTR and staff at the company as well as NCB Stockbroker private clients.
By Ailish O’Hora
2 February 2008
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