NTR Joins BlackRock In Energy Venture
The Irish Times : March 01 2011
By Suzanne Lynch
The Chief executive of renewable energy and waste management group NTR, Jim Barry, is to step down and become chief investment officer of a new joint venture with international fund manager BlackRock.
The venture will focus on investments in renewable assets. Mr Barry will be replaced as chief executive by Michael McNicholas, who is currently NTR’s chief operating officer.
Some 10-12 NTR executives will move to the new entity, which will be Dublin-headquartered and will have a staff of between 20 and 25.
The deal, which was signed on Friday, has been in the pipeline for five to six months.
The announcement marks BlackRock’s first foray into the field of renewable energy. While the asset manager has exposure to the clean tech sector through its fund business, this will mark the company’s first investment in clean tech assets and infrastructure.
The new entity will join BlackRock’s alternatives division, which currently manages €110 billion worth of alternative investment assets through hedge funds, private-equity, and structured products. BlackRock is the world’s largest fund manager with $3.6 trillion of assets under management.
While NTR will not contribute financial capital to the new business, it will have a “significant economic interest” in the company, Mr Barry said yesterday. “Over the medium to long term it will be materially significant economically to NTR Plc.”
He said the decision by BlackRock to choose NTR as a partner will enhance the Irish company’s global profile. The announcement of the new venture, which does not require shareholder approval, will see a major reconfiguration of senior management at NTR.
Michael Walsh, group finance director of NTR, has been appointed as chief executive of Woodford Capital, the investment vehicle of the Roche family which owns 39.4 per cent of the company.
Current Greenstar Ireland chief executive Neil Parkinson, will become chief financial officer of NTR, with Rosheen McGuckian, corporate development director at NTR since 2008, succeeding him at the helm of the waste management company.
Half-year results for NTR published yesterday show that revenue at the company grew by €50 million in the six months to September 30th, 2010, up from €168 million during the same period in 2009. Operating losses stood at €90.9 million, compared to an operating loss of €60.6 million for the same period last year.
The accounts show a group ebidta (earnings before interest depreciation tax and amortisation) loss of €54.3 million, though the company stressed that this was mainly due to the continued underperformance of the company’s solar business, with ebidta across its wind, waste management and ethanol businesses, more than doubling to €23.2 million.
NTR yesterday reiterated its intention to reduce its focus on solar energy. It recently announced the sale of its two Californian solar energy projects.
Greenstar Ireland remains one of the company’s weakest performers due to the challenging economic environment and continuing regulatory uncertainty.