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Sinn Féin call for block on Phoenix Gas sell-off

13 June, 2005

Sinn Féin Economy Spokesperson, Mitchel McLaughlin MLA speaking after a party delegation meet with the Energy Regulator Douglas McIldoon has said that the sell-off of Phoenix Gas to Private Equity company Terra Firma should be blocked.

The Sinn Féin General Secretary said:

"Phoenix was awarded a unique position in relation to the favourable terms of its licensing agreement, substantial subsidy and a guaranteed higher rate of return of 8.5% until 2016. This received cross party support in recognition of the need to develop the gas market to tackle high-energy costs and high levels of fuel poverty. Sinn Féin would be deeply concerned that this privileged position will now be exploited to generate super profits at the expense of the consumer for EHS who acquired Phoenix for a sum of around £240million. It is now reported that the offer from Terra Firma to EHS is in the region of £450 million - a suggested profit of £210million over an eighteen month period.

"Sinn Féin would also be concerned that as a private equity company such as Terra Firma ˆ rather than developing the gas market - intends to generate greater profits for itself in a sell-on deal.

"This bid is not good for consumers. It is not good for the long-term stability of the gas market. It would not be good for the development of the single all-Ireland gas market. It is our view that the proposed sale should be blocked.

"Any attempt by direct rule minister Angela Smith to proceed with this sale would not be in the interests of people here and underscores the need to have the local institutions re-established as soon as possible. I would call on Angela Smith to block this deal pending all-Party discussion on a comprehensive Energy policy that will address the circumstances specific to here." ENDS

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