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Energy Minister Arlene Foster has commented on today’s announcement that Arcapita, owners of the Viridian Group, plan to sell the NIE network business in Northern Ireland to the Electricity Supply Board (ESB).

Posted on: July 21st, 2010

The Minister said: “I am aware of the planned commercial transaction between the two companies. I have met with senior officials in NIE and ESB, and have also discussed the transaction with the Regulator and the Irish Minister Eamon Ryan TD.

“I have received assurances from ESB on a range of issues relating to the transaction. These include ESB investment plans, the importance of securing existing jobs, and maintaining the identity of the electricity network business in Northern Ireland. I will continue to keep a close watch as the transaction proceeds towards completion, to ensure the interests of electricity consumers in Northern Ireland are being properly considered.’’

The electricity transmission and distribution networks in Northern Ireland are owned and operated by NIE plc. NIE plc itself is part of the Viridian Group which is owned by the Bahrain-based investment bank, Arcapita. The planned transaction would see ESB, the network owner in the Republic of Ireland, becoming the owner of NIE.

Arlene Foster added: “Governments in both jurisdictions are committed to increasing the levels of renewable power generation.

“This will require significant grid strengthening, and I welcome assurances by ESB management of their strong commitment to fund and construct this important infrastructure in Northern Ireland, in addition to delivering on similar commitments in the Republic of Ireland.’’