Ireland raises target for state assets sale to €3b
Friday, 24 February 2012 | 00:00
The Irish government raised its target for the sale of state assets to €3 billion (Dh14 billion) in unveiling its final list of utilities set to go on the block.
Dublin said it will meet most of its target by selling the energy business of Bord Gais, while the previously announced sale of a minority stake in the state's most valuable asset, the Irish Electricity Supply Board (ESB), is off the table.
Doubts remain over when the government might sell its stake in Aer Lingus, with plans on hold pending more favourable market conditions.
The government had previously said it was looking to raise €2 billion but had indicated it may exceed that after winning approval to use some of the proceeds to invest in the economy as well as pay down debt.
It said yesterday one third of the amount raised from the asset sales would be ploughed back into growth but reiterated that it would not be pressured into fire sales.
"We're not going to short-change the taxpayer but at the same time we're not going to delay," Minister for Public Expenditure Brendan Howlin told a news conference.
The €2 billion that will be used to pay down debt represents a fraction of the €204 million Dublin expects its debt to rise to by 2015.
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